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Mech Ageing Dev. 2009 Mar;130(3):167-72. doi: 10.1016/j.mad.2008.11.001. Epub 2008 Nov 13.

Transcript profiles of long- and short-lived adults implicate protein synthesis in evolved differences in ageing in the nematode Strongyloides ratti.

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School of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol, Woodland Road, Bristol, BS8 1UG, UK.


The nematode Strongyloides ratti shows remarkable phenotypic plasticity in ageing, with parasitic adults living at least 80-times longer than free-living adults. Given that long- and short-lived adults are genetically identical, this plasticity is likely to be due to differences in gene expression. To try and understand how this inter-morph difference in longevity evolved, we compared gene expression in long- and short-lived adults. DNA microarray analysis of long- and short-lived adults identified 32 genes that were up-regulated in long-lived adults, and 96 genes up-regulated in short-lived adults. Strikingly, 38.5% of the genes expressed more in the short-lived morph are predicted to encode ribosomal proteins, compared with only 9% in the long-lived morph. Among the 32 longevity-associated genes there was very little enrichment of genes linked to cellular maintenance. Overall, we have therefore observed a negative correlation between expression of ribosomal protein genes and longevity in S. ratti. Interestingly, engineered reduction of expression of ribosomal protein genes increases lifespan in the free-living nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. Our study therefore suggests that differences in levels of protein synthesis could contribute to evolved differences in animal longevity.

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