I. Genes that Control Aging
II. Regulation of Aging by Signals from the Reproductive System
Part II: The Regulation of Aging by Signals from the Reproductive System, and, also, a Link Between Aging and Tumor Growth
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Once it was thought that aging was just a random and haphazard process. Instead, the rate of aging turns out to be subject to regulation by transcription factors that respond to hormones and other signals. In the nematode C. elegans, in which many key discoveries about aging were first made, the aging process is subject to regulation by food intake, sensory perception, and signals from the reproductive system. Changing genes and cells that affect aging can lengthen lifespan by six fold, and can also delay age-related disease, such as the growth of tumors.
Cynthia Kenyon graduated valedictorian in chemistry and biochemistry from the University of Georgia in 1976. She received her PhD from MIT in 1981, where, in Graham Walker's laboratory, she was the first to look for genes on the basis of their expression profiles, discovering that DNA damaging agents activate a battery of DNA repair genes in E. coli.
She then did postdoctoral studies with Nobel laureate Sydney Brenner at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, UK, studying the development of C. elegans. Since 1986 she has been at the University of California, San Francisco, where she was the Herbert Boyer Distinguished Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics and is now an American Cancer Society Professor.
In 1993, Kenyon and colleagues' discovery that a single-gene mutation could double the lifespan ofC. elegans sparked an intensive study of the molecular biology of aging. These findings have now led to the discovery that an evolutionarily conserved hormone signaling system controls aging in other organisms as well, including mammals. Dr. Kenyon has received many honors and awards for her findings.
She is a member of the US National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Institute of Medicine and she is a past president of the Genetics Society of America. She is now the director of the Hillblom Center for the Biology of Aging at UCSF.
- Cynthia Kenyon iBioMagazine: A Genetic Control Circuit for Aging
Tatar, M, Bartke, A, Antebi A. The endocrine regulation of aging by insulin-like signals. Science 299. 1346. (2003)
Cynthia Kenyon, Jean Chang, Erin Gensch , Adam Rudner and Ramon Tabtiang. A C. elegans mutant that lives twice as long as wild type. Nature 366(6454), 461-464 (1993)
Kimura, KD, Tissenbaum, H, Liu and Ruvkun, G. daf-2, an insulin receptor-like gene that regulates longevity and diapause in Caenorhabditis elegans. Science 277, 942 (1977)
Honor Hsin and Cynthia Kenyon. Signals from the reproductive system regulate the lifespan of C. elegans. Nature 399(6734), 362-366 (1999)
Javier Apfeld and Cynthia Kenyon. Regulation of lifespan by sensory perception in Caenorhabditis elegans. Nature 420(6763), 804-809 (1999)
Kui Lin, Honor Hsin, Natasha Libina and Cynthia Kenyon. Regulation of the Caenorhabditis elegans longevity protein DAF-16 by insulin/IGF-1 and germline signaling. Nature Genetics 28(2), 139-145 (2001)
Andrew Dillin, Douglas K. Crawford and Cynthia Kenyon Timing Requirements for Insulin/IGF-1 Signaling in C. elegans. Science 298(5594), 830-34 (2002)
Coleen T. Murphy, Steven A. McCarroll, Cornelia I. Bargmann, Andrew Fraser, Ravi S. Kamath, Julie Ahringer, Hao Li and Cynthia Kenyon. Genes that Act Downstream of DAF-16 to Influence the Lifespan of Caenorhabditis elegans. Nature 424(6946), 277-283 (2003)
Nuno Arantes-Oliveira, Jen R. Berman and Cynthia Kenyon. Healthy animals with extreme longevity. Science 302(5645), 611 (2003)
Natasha Libina, Jen R. Berman and Cynthia Kenyon. Tissue-specific activities of C. elegans DAF-16 in the regulation of lifespan. Cell 115(4), 489-502 (2004)
Joy Alcedo and Cynthia Kenyon. Regulation of C. elegans Longevity by Specific Gustatory and Olfactory Neurons. Neuron 41(1), 45-55 (2004)
Julie M. Pinkston, Delia Garigan, Malene Hansen, and Cynthia Kenyon. Mutations that increase the life span of C. elegans inhibit tumor growth. Science 313(5789), 971-975 (2006)
Cynthia Kenyon. The plasticity of aging: insights from long-lived mutants. Cell 120(4), 449-460 (2005)