The nematode Caenorhabditis elegans has become a model system for the study of the genetic basis of aging. In particular, many mutations that extend life span have been identified in this organism. When loss-of-function mutations in a gene lead to life span extension, it is a necessary conclusion that the gene normally limits life span in the wild type. The effect of a given mutation depends on a number of environmental and genetic conditions. For example, the combination of two mutations can result in additive, synergistic, subtractive, or epistatic effects on life span. Valuable insight into the processes that determine life span can be obtained from such genetic analyses, especially when interpreted with caution, and when molecular information about the interacting genes is available. Thus, genetic and molecular analyses have implicated several genes classes (daf, clk and eat) in life span determination and have indicated that aging is affected by alteration of several biological processes, namely dormancy, physiological rates, food intake, and reproduction.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental Biology