As the human body ages, it undergoes biological changes, and this causes inefficiency in cell and tissue functionality. However, the majority of studies in which molecules were identified involving age-related dysfunctions are decisive only on mechanisms based on mRNA transcription. The mRNA transcription is an important step in gene expression, but still, only parts of the complex regulatory mechanisms are present in human cells.
A group of scientists at EPFL University has taken a different approach to study aging and the relation between aging and RNA-binding proteins. This relation helps to bind mRNA molecules and regulates their fate after gene transcription. Their findings were published in the journal Molecular Cell. They initially screened old animal cells to detect RBPs that change after aging; the screening results confirmed that one protein was highly induced in the aged animals—Pumilio2 (PUM2). The protein binds mRNA molecules with particular sites of recognition. PUM2 suppresses the translation of target mRNAs into proteins upon binding.
Researchers later took a generic systems approach then identified a new mRNA target that binds PUM2 using a system genetics approach. The mRNA encodes a Mitochondrial Fission Factor (MFF) protein and is a pivotal mitochondrial fission regulator that breaks mitochondria into smaller mitochondria. High levels of MFF also enable the clearance of broken, dysfunctional mitochondria.
Genomics involves the study of the whole set of genes in an organism is one area where new technologies such as AI and machine learning have evolved significantly over the years. The analysis of genes is crucial not only for their impact on human health but also on agriculture and animal husbandry.
New research suggests that by undoing gene activity changes, it is possible to slow down or even reverse the aging, at least in mice. According to a study published in Molecular Cell, researchers from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have successfully reversed the aging of mouse and human cells in vitro. The process of reverse aging is done by tweaking genes that turn adult cells back into embryonic cells. This helps to extend the life with an improved aging condition and promote recovery from an injury.