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An Engineering Approach to Extending Lifespan in C. elegans

Authors
Journal
PLoS Genetics
1553-7390
Publisher
Public Library of Science
Publication Date
Volume
8
Issue
6
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1002780
Keywords
  • Research Article
  • Biology
  • Anatomy And Physiology
  • Physiological Processes
  • Aging
  • Genetics
  • Animal Genetics
  • Engineering
  • Bioengineering
  • Biological Systems Engineering
Disciplines
  • Engineering

Abstract

Author Summary We used bioengineering to extend the lifespan of C. elegans by expressing genes acting in critical aging pathways. We overexpressed five genes that act in endogenous worm aging pathways, as well as two genes from zebrafish encoding molecular functions not normally present in worms. For example, we used zebrafish genes to alter mitochondrial function and innate immunity in ways not normally available to C. elegans and extended worm lifespan by ∼40%. Next, we used a modular approach to extend lifespan by 130% by combining up to four components in the same strain. These results provide a platform to build worms having progressively longer lifespans. This project is conceptually similar to using engineering to increase the useful lifespan of a primitive machine (1931 Model T) using both parts from the model T as well as parts from a more advanced machine (2012 Toyota Corolla). Our results open the door to use engineering to go beyond the constraints of the C. elegans genome to extend its lifespan by adding non-native components.

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