Gene loss accelerates agingTheallIneed.com/NC&T/CSHL
"To study how the p63 gene works, we devised a system for eliminating it from adult mouse tissues. What struck us right away was that these p63 deficient mice were aging prematurely," says Alea Mills of Cold Spring Harbor laboratory, who led the research.
Mice that are born without the p63 gene do not survive. Therefore, Mills had previously conducted extensive studies of mice that are born with only one copy of the gene. Still, these animals die at a young age. So to study p63 function in adults, Mills and her colleagues devised a sophisticated molecular genetic technique that enabled them to eliminate both copies of the gene from particular tissues--including skin and other multi-layered epithelial tissues--after the animals reached maturity.
The effects of premature aging observed in these p63 deficient mice (image available on request) were hair loss, reduced fitness and body weight, progressive curvature of the spine, and a shortened lifespan.
|8-month-old normal (top) and p63 deficient mice (Photo: Alea Mills, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory)|
"I first presented these results at a meeting in Tuscany. I don't want to sound flippant, but if you have to grow old somewhere, that's about as good a place as any to do it," says Mills.
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