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The good and the bad of being connected: the integrons of aging

Authors
Journal
Current Opinion in Cell Biology
0955-0674
Publisher
Elsevier
Volume
26
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/j.ceb.2013.12.003
Disciplines
  • Biology
  • Communication

Abstract

Over 40 years ago, Francois Jacob proposed that levels of ‘integrons’ explain how biological systems are constructed. Today, these networks of interactions between tissues, cells, organelles, metabolic pathways, genes, and individual molecules provide key insights into biology. We suggest that the wiring and interdependency between subsystems within a network are useful to understand the aging process. The breakdown of one subsystem (e.g. an organelle) can have ramifications for other interconnected subsystems, leading to the sequential collapse of subsystem functions. But yet, the interconnected nature of homeostatic wiring can provide organisms with the means of compensating for the decline of one subsystem. This occurs at multiple levels in an organism—for example, between organelles or between tissues. We review recent data that highlight the importance of such interconnectivity/communication in the aging process, in both progressive decline and longevity assurance.

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