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Aging Cell. 2010 Jun;9(3):433-47. doi: 10.1111/j.1474-9726.2010.00571.x. Epub 2010 Mar 19.

Two modes of mitochondrial dysfunction lead independently to lifespan extension in Caenorhabditis elegans.

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Department of Biology, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.


In Caenorhabditis elegans, longevity is increased by a partial loss-of-function mutation in the mitochondrial complex III subunit gene isp-1. Longevity is also increased by RNAi against the expression of a variety of mitochondrial respiratory chain genes, including isp-1, but it is unknown whether the isp-1(qm150) mutation and the RNAi treatments trigger the same underlying mechanisms of longevity. We have identified nuo-6(qm200), a mutation in a conserved subunit of mitochondrial complex I (NUDFB4). The mutation reduces the function of complex I and, like isp-1(qm150), results in low oxygen consumption, slow growth, slow behavior, and increased lifespan. We have compared the phenotypes of nuo-6(qm200) to those of nuo-6(RNAi) and found them to be distinct in crucial ways, including patterns of growth and fertility, behavioral rates, oxygen consumption, ATP levels, autophagy, and resistance to paraquat, as well as expression of superoxide dismutases, mitochondrial heat-shock proteins, and other gene expression markers. RNAi treatments appear to generate a stress and autophagy response, while the genomic mutation alters electron transport and reactive oxygen species metabolism. For many phenotypes, we also compared isp-1(qm150) to isp-1(RNAi) and found the same pattern of differences. Most importantly, we found that, while the lifespan of nuo-6, isp-1 double mutants is not greater than that of the single mutants, the lifespan increase induced by nuo-6(RNAi) is fully additive to that induced by isp-1(qm150), and the increase induced by isp-1(RNAi) is fully additive to that induced by nuo-6(qm200). Our results demonstrate that distinct and separable aspects of mitochondrial biology affect lifespan independently.

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