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2000 | 47 | 2 | 269-279
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Aging and longevity genes.

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The genetics of aging has made substantial strides in the past decade. This progress has been confined primarily to model organisms, such as filamentous fungi, yeast, nematodes, fruit flies, and mice, in which some thirty-five genes that determine life span have been cloned. These genes encode a wide array of cellular functions, indicating that there must be multiple mechanisms of aging. Nevertheless, some generalizations are already beginning to emerge. It is now clear that there are at least four broad physiological processes that play a role in aging: metabolic control, resistance to stress, gene dysregulation, and genetic stability. The first two of these at least are common themes that connect aging in yeast, nematodes, and fruit flies, and this convergence extends to caloric restriction, which postpones senescence and increases life span in rodents. Many of the human homologs of the longevity genes found in model organisms have been identified. This will lead to their use as candidate human longevity genes in population genetic studies. The urgency for such studies is great: The population is graying, and this research holds the promise of improvement in the quality of the later years of life.
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  • Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, New Orleans, Louisiana 70112 U.S.A.
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