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Caenorhabditis elegans: a platform for accelerating research on ageing
Published on January 30, 2017 27 min
Other Talks in the Series: Aging
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- Dr. João Pedro de Magalhães
- University of Liverpool, UK
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- Prof. Caleb Finch
- The University of Southern California, USA
Carcinogenesis and aging
- Prof. Vladimir N. Anisimov
- N.N. Petrov Research Institute of Oncology, Russia
Hello, and welcome to this presentation on the use of the nematode worms Caenorhabditis elegans in ageing research. My name is Nektarios Tavernarakis. I'm a Professor at the University of Crete Medical School, and a Research Director at the Foundation for Research and Technology in Heraklion, Crete, Greece.
I will begin by introducing and defining the phenomenon of ageing, in relation to biological systems. I will then introduce Caenorhabditis elegans, focusing primarily on its biology, features and advantages relevant to ageing research. In the following part of the talk, I will give you an overview of the main factors and mechanisms that have been discovered to influence ageing in the nematode. In the last part, I will present some of our own work that directly implicates mitochondrial turnover in the regulation of organism lifespan, and which demonstrates the versatility of C. elegans as a tool to dissect the cellular and molecular underpinnings of ageing.
Senescent decline in ageing is driven by the inexorable and random incidents of damage to cellular constituents. This continued white noise of random molecular damage forms the bedrock for the advent of ageing. In turn, molecular damage leads to accumulation of cellular defects that gradually and in time precipitate a decline in the function of cells, organs, and tissues, which can be manifested as age-related frailty, disability and disease.
The source of damage can be both intrinsic and extrinsic. Damaging agents can target a variety of important micromolecules, such as DNA, proteins and lipids, but also essential organs in the cells, such as mitochondria. Examples of agents and causes of damage originating within the cell are the byproducts of metabolic processes, such as oxidizing reactive oxygen species, as well as errors during molecular synthesis processes. Outside damaging factors include UV radiation, chemicals, toxins, and heat among others. Both intrinsic and extrinsic factors conspire to bring about ageing and senescent decline. Numerous diverse organisms ranging from microbes to primates have been used towards understanding the cellular and molecular basis of ageing.