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Oct 25, 2021

Clues to Immortality From the Fruit Fly Genome

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, genetics, life extension

Circa 2018


The secrets to immortality may lie in an unexpected place — fruit fly stem cells. Researchers led by Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Investigator Yukiko Yamashita have found that some stem cells have a genetic trick to remain young forever across generations. While some areas of the fruit fly genome get shorter as they age, some reproductive cells are able to fix that shortening. Once observed only in yeast, this work, reported in eLife, has revealed more about aging, and how some cells can avoid it.

This work focused on critical genes in ribosomal DNA, rDNA. Ribosomes are cellular organelles that act as protein factories. That rDNA is repeated in several areas of the genome because many ribosomes are needed to make all of the proteins the body needs. Five chromosomes each have spots with hundreds of copies of rDNA. However, that type of redundant sequence can be difficult for cells to replicate accurately every time cell division happens.

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