Caloric restriction (CR), defined as decreased nutrient intake without causing malnutrition, has been documented to increase both health and lifespan across numerous organisms, including humans. Many drugs and other compounds naturally occurring in our diet (nutraceuticals) have been postulated to act as mimetics of caloric restriction, leading to a wave of research investigating the efficacy of these compounds in preventing age-related diseases and promoting healthier, longer lifespans. Although well studied at the biochemical level, there are still many unanswered questions about how CR and CR mimetics impact genome function and structure. Here we discuss how genome function and structure are influenced by CR and potential CR mimetics, including changes in gene expression profiles and epigenetic modifications and their potential to identify the genetic fountain of youth.
DNA microarrays and RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) are major technologies for performing high-throughput analysis of transcript abundance. Recently, concerns have been raised regarding the concordance of data derived from the two techniques. Using cDNA libraries derived from normal human foreskin fibroblasts, we measured changes in transcript abundance as cells transitioned from proliferative growth to quiescence using both DNA microarrays and RNA-seq. The internal reproducibility of the RNA-seq data was greater than that of the microarray data. Correlations between the RNA-seq data and the individual microarrays were low, but correlations between the RNA-seq values and the geometric mean of the microarray values were moderate. The two technologies had good agreement when considering probes with the largest (both positive and negative) fold change (FC) values. An independent technique, quantitative reverse-transcription PCR (qRT-PCR), was used to measure the FC of 76 genes between proliferative and quiescent samples, and a higher correlation was observed between the qRT-PCR data and the RNA-seq data than between the qRT-PCR data and the microarray data.
How distal regulatory elements control gene transcription and chromatin topology is not clearly defined, yet these processes are closely linked in lineage specification during development. Through allele-specific genome editing and chromatin interaction analyses of the Sox2 locus in mouse embryonic stem cells, we found a striking disconnection between transcriptional control and chromatin architecture. We traced nearly all Sox2 transcriptional activation to a small number of key transcription factor binding sites, whose deletions have no effect on promoter–enhancer interaction frequencies or topological domain organization. Local chromatin architecture maintenance, including at the topologically associating domain (TAD) boundary downstream from the Sox2 enhancer, is widely distributed over multiple transcription factor-bound regions and maintained in a CTCF-independent manner. Furthermore, partial disruption of promoter–enhancer interactions by ectopic chromatin loop formation has no effect on Sox2 transcription. These findings indicate that many transcription factors are involved in modulating chromatin architecture independently of CTCF.
Cellular health is reliant on proteostasis—the maintenance of protein levels regulated through multiple pathways modulating protein synthesis, degradation and clearance. Loss of proteostasis results in serious disease and is associated with aging. One proteinaceous structure underlying the nuclear envelope—the nuclear lamina—coordinates essential processes including DNA repair, genome organization and epigenetic and transcriptional regulation. Loss of proteostasis within the nuclear lamina results in the accumulation of proteins, disrupting these essential functions, either via direct interactions of protein aggregates within the lamina or by altering systems that maintain lamina structure. Here we discuss the links between proteostasis and disease of the nuclear lamina, as well as how manipulating specific proteostatic pathways involved in protein clearance could improve cellular health and prevent/reverse disease.
Caloric restriction (CR), the reduction of caloric intake without inducing malnutrition, is the most reproducible method of extending health and lifespan across numerous organisms, including humans. However, with nearly one-third of the world’s population overweight, it is obvious that caloric restriction approaches are difficult for individuals to achieve. Therefore, identifying compounds that mimic CR is desirable to promote longer, healthier lifespans without the rigors of restricting diet. Many compounds, such as rapamycin (and its derivatives), metformin, or other naturally occurring products in our diets (nutraceuticals), induce CR-like states in laboratory models. An alternative to CR is the removal of specific elements (such as individual amino acids) from the diet. Despite our increasing knowledge of the multitude of CR approaches and CR mimetics, the extent to which these strategies overlap mechanistically remains unclear. Here we provide an update of CR and CR mimetic research, summarizing mechanisms by which these strategies influence genome function required to treat age-related pathologies and identify the molecular fountain of youth.
Metformin is a widely-used treatment for type 2 diabetes and is reported to extend health and lifespan as a caloric restriction (CR) mimetic. Although the benefits of metformin are well documented, the impact of this compound on the function and organization of the genome in normal tissues is unclear. To explore this impact, primary human fibroblasts were treated in culture with metformin resulting in a significant decrease in cell proliferation without evidence of cell death. Furthermore, metformin induced repositioning of chromosomes 10 and 18 within the nuclear volume indicating altered genome organization. Transcriptome analyses from RNA sequencing datasets revealed that alteration in growth profiles and chromosome positioning occurred concomitantly with changes in gene expression profiles. We further identified that different concentrations of metformin induced different transcript profiles; however, significant enrichment in the activator protein 1 (AP-1) transcription factor network was common between the different treatments. Comparative analyses revealed that metformin induced divergent changes in the transcriptome than that of rapamycin, another proposed mimetic of CR. Promoter analysis and chromatin immunoprecipitation assays of genes that changed expression in response to metformin revealed enrichment of the transcriptional regulator forkhead box O3a (FOXO3a) in normal human fibroblasts, but not of the predicted serum response factor (SRF). Therefore, we have demonstrated that metformin has significant impacts on genome organization and function in normal human fibroblasts, different from those of rapamycin, with FOXO3a likely playing a role in this response.
scite is a Brooklyn-based organization that helps researchers better discover and understand research articles through Smart Citations–citations that display the context of the citation and describe whether the article provides supporting or contrasting evidence. scite is used by students and researchers from around the world and is funded in part by the National Science Foundation and the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health.