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Curr Biol. 1997 Aug 1;7(8):607-10.

The prohibitin family of mitochondrial proteins regulate replicative lifespan.

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Department of Molecular and Cellular Pathology, University of Dundee, Ninewells Hospital and Medical School, UK.


Cellular senescence is determined by multiple factors, including the genetic regulation of metabolism and responses to endogenous and exogenous stresses [1-4]. Recent studies implicate a limited number of gene products in elongating lifespan in yeast and Caenorhabditis elegans [2-4]; these include the C, elegans gene cik-1, a central regulator of metabolism [5], and yeast RAS2, which controls the response to ultraviolet irradiation and other stresses [3]. Another gene postulated to effect senescence is PHB1, the yeast homologue of prohibitin [3], a rodent gene initially identified as a potential regulator of growth arrest and tumour suppressor [6-8]. Highly conserved prohibitin homologues have been identified in mammals [9], Drosophila [10], C. elegans [9], plants [11] and yeast. A second mammalian gene, encoding BAP37, a protein with sequence similarity to prohibitin, is thought to be involved in lymphocyte function [9]. Here, we show that the nuclear-encoded mammalian prohibitin and BAP37 proteins are present in mitochondria, are co-expressed, and interact physically with each other. Deletion of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae homologues, PHB1 and PHB2, results in a decreased replicative lifespan and a defect in mitochondrial membrane potential. Our observations highlight the relationship between the metabolic efficiency of cells and the ageing process, and provide evidence for its evolutionary conservation.

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