January 1, 2017 at 4:30 pm

MCB 7410 Seminar | A Search for the Ugly Truth about Aging Using the Genome of the Longest-Lived Rodent, the Naked Mole Rat, Jan. 31

Kevin Funk and Jonathan Young are presenting the MCB 7410 Seminar on Tuesday, Jan. 31, at 4:35 p.m. in Porter 104.

Their topic is “A search for the ugly truth about aging using the genome of the longest-lived rodent, the naked mole rat.”

Funk and Young are Ph.D. students in Biological Sciences.

Refreshments are provided.

Abstract: A better understanding of the aging process could improve human health and lifespan, and the long-lived naked mole rat (NMR, Heterocephalus glaber) genome likely contains multiple anti-aging mechanisms1. Classic animal models such as the laboratory mouse have not been naturally selected for long life, as most die due to outside circumstances such as predation2.  Alternatively, NMRs live over 30 years entirely underground while safe from predators, and within a eusocial system that is more like the organization of human society2.  The recently sequenced NMR genome will be useful for examining multiple theories of aging and anti-cancer mechanisms3, while providing a better context for potential human lifespan clues. Sequencing of the NMR genome sheds light on the genomic differences between NMRs and other rodents and mammals that result in their unique traits.

Although the NMR genome has a similar number of genes to mouse, rat, and human genomes, and a low rate of genetic rearrangements, they have a collection of differences that give NMRs their exceptional traits. In this study1, the authors used multiple techniques to characterize the unique traits of NMRs. Differences in telomere maintenance were detected at the gene and protein level, while transcriptome analysis demonstrated that mitochondrial function is unchanged by aging in NMRs. Other differences for NMRs in thermogenesis, sight, melatonin, hairlessness, hypoxia, and cancer are examined using DNA or protein sequence –based techniques. As a whole, these sequence based analyses shed light on the uniqueness of NMRs, which serves as a basis for further examination of their increased life span.

  1. Kim, B. et al. Genome sequencing reveals insights into physiology and longevity of the naked mole rat. Nature 479, 223–227 (2011).
  2. Lewis, N. et al. Unraveling the message: insights into comparative genomics of the naked mole-rat. Mamm. Genome Off. J. Int. Mamm. Genome Soc. 27, 259–278 (2016).
  3. Jiang, -J., Cheng, L.-H., Wu, H., He, Y.-H. & Kong, Q.-P. Insights into long noncoding RNAs of naked mole rat (Heterocephalus glaber) and their potential association with cancer resistance. Epigenetics Chromatin 9, 51 (2016).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *