Hydrogen bonds commonly lend robustness and directionality to molecular recognition processes and supramolecular structures. In particular, the two or three hydrogen bonds in Watson-Crick base pairs bind the double-stranded DNA helix and determine the complementarity of the pairing. Watson and Crick pointed out, however, that the possible tautomers of base pairs, in which hydrogen atoms become attached to the donor atom of the hydrogen bond, might disturb the genetic code, as the tautomer is capable of pairing with different partners. But the dynamics of hydrogen bonds in general, and of this tautomerization process in particular, are not well understood. Here we report observations of the femtosecond dynamics of tautomerization in model base pairs (7-azaindole dimers) containing two hydrogen bonds. Because of the femtosecond resolution of proton motions, we are able to examine the cooperativity of formation of the tautomer (in which the protons on each base are shifted sequentially to the other base), and to determine the characteristic timescales of the motions in a solvent-free environment. We find that the first step occurs on a timescale of a few hundred femtoseconds, whereas the second step, to form the full tautomer, is much slower, taking place within several picoseconds; the timescales are changed significantly by replacing hydrogen with deuterium. These results establish the molecular basis of the dynamics and the role of quantum tunnelling.
The gut microbiota shows a wide inter-individual variation, but its within-individual variation is relatively stable over time. A functional core microbiome, provided by abundant bacterial taxa, seems to be common to various human hosts regardless of their gender, geographic location, and age. With advancing chronological age, the gut microbiota becomes more diverse and variable. However, when measures of biological age are used with adjustment for chronological age, overall richness decreases, while a certain group of bacteria associated with frailty increases. This highlights the importance of considering biological or functional measures of aging. Studies using model organisms indicate that age-related gut dysbiosis may contribute to unhealthy aging and reduced longevity. The gut microbiome depends on the host nutrient signaling pathways for its beneficial effects on host health and lifespan, and gut dysbiosis disrupting the interdependence may diminish the beneficial effects or even have reverse effects. Gut dysbiosis can trigger the innate immune response and chronic low-grade inflammation, leading to many age-related degenerative pathologies and unhealthy aging. The gut microbiota communicates with the host through various biomolecules, nutrient signaling-independent pathways, and epigenetic mechanisms. Disturbance of these communications by age-related gut dysbiosis can affect the host health and lifespan. This may explain the impact of the gut microbiome on health and aging.
The yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae has a limited life-span, which is measured by the number of divisions that individual cells complete. Among the many changes that occur as yeasts age are alterations in chromatin-dependent transcriptional silencing. We have genetically manipulated histone deacetylases to modify chromatin, and we have examined the effect on yeast longevity. Deletion of the histone deacetylase gene RPD3 extended life-span. Its effects on chromatin functional state were evidenced by enhanced silencing at the three known heterochromatic regions of the genome, the silent mating type (HM), subtelomeric, and rDNA loci, which occurred even in the absence of SIR3. Similarly, the effect of the rpd3Delta on life-span did not depend on an intact Sir silencing complex. In fact, deletion of SIR3 itself had little effect on life-span, although it markedly accelerated the increase in cell generation time that is observed during yeast aging. Deletion of HDA1, another histone deacetylase gene, did not result in life-span extension, unless it was combined with deletion of SIR3. The hda1Delta sir3Delta resulted in an increase in silencing, but only at the rDNA locus. Deletion of RPD3 suppressed the loss of silencing in rDNA in a sir2 mutant; however, the silencing did not reach the level found in the rpd3Delta single mutant, and RPD3 deletion did not overcome the life-span shortening seen in the sir2 mutant. Deletion of both RPD3 and HDA1 caused a decrease in life-span, which resulted from a substantial increase in initial mortality of the population. The expression of both of these genes declines with age, providing one possible explanation for the increase in mortality during the life-span. Our results are consistent with the loss of rDNA silencing leading to aging in yeast. The functions of RPD3 and HDA1 do not overlap entirely. RPD3 exerts its effect on chromatin at additional sites in the genome, raising the possibility that events at loci other than rDNA play a role in the aging process.
The human gastrointestinal microbiota plays a key homeostatic role in normal functioning of physiologic processes commonly undermined by aging. We used a previously validated 34-item frailty index (FI34) to identify changes in gut microbiota community structure associated with biological age of community-dwelling adults. Stool 16S rRNA cDNA libraries from 85 subjects ranging in age (43-79) and FI34 score (0-0.365) were deep sequenced, denoised, and clustered using DADA2. Subject biological age but not chronological age correlated with a decrease in stool microbial diversity. Specific microbial genera were differentially abundant in the lower, middle, and upper 33rd percentiles of biological age. Using Sparse Inverse Covariance Estimation for Ecological Association and Statistical Inference (SPIEC-EASI) and Weighted Gene Co-Expression Network Analysis (WGCNA), we identified modules of coabundant microbial genera that distinguished biological from chronological aging. A biological age-associated module composed of Eggerthella, Ruminococcus, and Coprobacillus genera was robust to correction for subject age, sex, body mass index, antibiotic usage, and other confounders. Subject FI34 score positively correlated with the abundance of this module, which exhibited a distinct inferred metagenome as predicted by Phylogenetic Investigation of Communities by Reconstruction of Unobserved States (PICRUSt). We conclude that increasing biological age in community-dwelling adults is associated with gastrointestinal dysbiosis.
SummaryTo design rational therapies for JAK2-driven hematological malignancies, we functionally dissected the key survival pathways downstream of hyperactive JAK2. In tumors driven by mutant JAK2, Stat1, Stat3, Stat5, and the Pi3k and Mek/Erk pathways were constitutively active, and gene expression profiling of TEL-JAK2 T-ALL cells revealed the upregulation of prosurvival Bcl-2 family genes. Combining the Bcl-2/Bcl-xL inhibitor ABT-737 with JAK2 inhibitors mediated prolonged disease regressions and cures in mice bearing primary human and mouse JAK2 mutant tumors. Moreover, combined targeting of JAK2 and Bcl-2/Bcl-xL was able to circumvent and overcome acquired resistance to single-agent JAK2 inhibitor treatment. Thus, inhibiting the oncogenic JAK2 signaling network at two nodal points, at the initiating stage (JAK2) and the effector stage (Bcl-2/Bcl-xL), is highly effective and provides a clearly superior therapeutic benefit than targeting just one node. Therefore, we have defined a potentially curative treatment for hematological malignancies expressing constitutively active JAK2.
With an emphasis on evolving concepts in the field, we evaluated neuropathologic data from very old research volunteers whose brain autopsies were performed at University of Kentucky (UK-ADC), incorporating data from the Georgia Centenarian Study (N=49 cases included), the Nun Study (N=17), and UK-ADC (N=11) cohorts. Average age of death was 102.0 years (range: 98–107) overall. Alzheimer’s disease (AD) pathology was not universal (62% with “moderate” or “frequent” neuritic amyloid plaque densities) whereas frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) was absent. By contrast, some hippocampal neurofibrillary tangles (including primary age-related tauopathy [PART]) were observed in every case. Lewy body pathology was seen in 16.9% of subjects, hippocampal sclerosis of aging (HS-Aging) in 20.8%. We describe anatomical distributions of pigment-laden macrophages, expanded Virchow-Robin spaces, and arteriolosclerosis among Georgia Centenarians. Moderate or severe arteriolosclerosis pathology, throughout the brain, was associated with both HS-Aging pathology and an ABCC9 gene variant. These results provide fresh insights into the complex cerebral multimorbidity, and a novel genetic risk factor, at the far end of the human aging spectrum.
The measurement of biological age as opposed to chronological age is important to allow the study of factors that are responsible for the heterogeneity in the decline in health and function ability among individuals during aging. Various measures of biological aging have been proposed. Frailty indices based on health deficits in diverse body systems have been well studied, and we have documented the use of a frailty index (FI34) composed of 34 health items, for measuring biological age. A different approach is based on leukocyte DNA methylation. It has been termed DNA methylation age, and derivatives of this metric called age acceleration difference and age acceleration residual have also been employed. Any useful measure of biological age must predict survival better than chronological age does. Meta-analyses indicate that age acceleration difference and age acceleration residual are significant predictors of mortality, qualifying them as indicators of biological age. In this article, we compared the measures based on DNA methylation with FI34. Using a well-studied cohort, we assessed the efficiency of these measures side by side in predicting mortality. In the presence of chronological age as a covariate, FI34 was a significant predictor of mortality, whereas none of the DNA methylation age-based metrics were. The outperformance of FI34 over DNA methylation age measures was apparent when FI34 and each of the DNA methylation age measures were used together as explanatory variables, along with chronological age: FI34 remained significant but the DNA methylation measures did not. These results indicate that FI34 is a robust predictor of biological age, while these DNA methylation measures are largely a statistical reflection of the passage of chronological time.
In order to examine the relative contribution of neural- and muscle-based adaptation to strength training, we studied early (2 weeks) and later (12 weeks) effects of strength training on muscle size and strength and type I single-fiber size and contractility in 14 elderly women (aged 68-79 years) and seven young controls. Older subjects were randomized to training (n = 7) or control (n = 7) groups. Strength did not change, but whole muscle size increased significantly after 2 weeks. After 12 weeks, strength, whole muscle size, and specific force all increased. No changes occurred in the control group. In single fibers, no changes in size and contractility were noted after 2 weeks, but specific force was higher in the training group after 12 weeks. Early adaptations to strength training in elderly women cannot be attributed to changes at the cellular level and therefore occur primarily in the central nervous system. Later, cellular adaptations in specific force track closely whole muscle changes.
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