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Longevity Briefs: Negative effects of harmful mutations increase with age

Posted on 1 October 2020

Circular RNA found to make fruit flies live longer
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Longevity briefs provides a short summary of a novel research, medicine, or technology that caught the attention of our researchers in Oxford, due to its potential to improve our health, wellbeing, and longevity.

Why is this research important: Aging is a process of slow physiological decline that occurs in the majority of living organisms. There are two evolutionary theories attributed to this phenomenon. They both suggest that there are specific mutations in genome that have negative effects later in life. However, mutation accumulation theory states that those mutations have no influence on organisms early in life, while antagonistic pleiotropy suggests that those mutations are rather beneficial. There are a lot of studies supporting both theories and showing how those mutations collectively contribute to aging, but they do not provide information on the age-specific effect of individual mutations.

What did the researchers do: In this article, researches have studied 20 dominant mutations in common flies (Drosophila melanogaster), that have negative effects early in life. They have analyzed fecundity changes with age in 500-550 female flies for each mutation. Ability to bear offspring diminishes with age, making it a great factor to measure the effects of mutations on aging.

Key takeaway(s) from this research: It was discovered that 16 out of 20 deleterious mutations have a negative effect on fecundity. Moreover, for 14 out 16 of those mutations negative effects have increased with age. These mutations do not exactly fit with neither mutation accumulation theory nor antagonistic pleiotropy theory. Results also suggest that increase of negative effects with age can be a general property of deleterious mutations.

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