X-Message-Number: 10606
From: "John Clark" <>
Subject: Genes and a low calorie diet
Date: Sun, 18 Oct 1998 15:54:10 -0400

Hash: SHA1

About a year ago it was found that if a gene called "Dav-2" in a round
worm was mutated the worm was still active and fertile but lived more than
twice as long as an unmutated normal worm. A new development was just
reported today by Cynthia Kenyon in the October 16 issue of the journal
Cell, it turns out that it's not necessary to change every cell in the
worm, only a small number of the cells need to mutate for all the cells
in the worm live longer including the unmutated cells. The cells in the
worm must "vote" somehow and agree on how long to live because it's an
all or nothing process, if the number of mutated cells is too small
the worm does not live longer, even the mutated cells don't live longer.
There must be a second signal (not yet found) that's given off by the
cells with the change to Dav-2 that convinces all the other cells
that they should live longer.

The other interesting thing is that the Dav-2 gene in humans makes a
receptor for insulin and a growth factor called IGF that's deeply involved
in food metabolism. The mutated roundworms eat a normal diet but their
metabolism is similar to an unmutated roundworm on a very low calorie diet.
A low calorie diet has extended the life span of every animal it has been
tested on.

   John K Clark     

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