Magazine article Science News

Cellular Structure Linked to Aging

Magazine article Science News

Cellular Structure Linked to Aging

Article excerpt

New clues to the cellular basis of aging have emerged from studies of the brewer's yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Last year, scientists isolated a S. cerevisiae gene, SGS1, similar to the human gene responsible for Werner's syndrome--a condition that mimics aspects of aging. Young people with Werner's syndrome acquire gray hair and diseases such as osteoporosis, cataracts, and hardening of the arteries. Like the human gene, SGS1 controls behavior associated with aging, report Leonard Guarente of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his colleagues in the Aug. 29 Science.

"The idea is that by figuring out what this gene does, we can find out not only about disease but also about the aging process itself," says Guarente.

When S. cerevisiae divides in two, it splits asymmetrically. Most of the old cellular material remains within the larger--or mother--cell. Researchers obtain a collection of old cells by watching a single yeast cell under the microscope and pushing the daughter cells aside each time a new one emerges.

To analyze yeast containing mutations in SGS1, the scientists counted the number of times a cell divided. …

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