Protein Metabolism and Homeostasis in Aging

Volume 694 of the series Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology pp 30-37

Protein Synthesis and the Antagonistic Pleiotropy Hypothesis of Aging

  • Pankaj KapahiAffiliated withBuck Institute for Age Research

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Growth and somatic maintenance are thought to be antagonistic pleiotropic traits, but the molecular basis for this tradeoff is poorly understood. Here it is proposed that changes in protein synthesis mediate the tradeoffs that take place upon genetic and environmental manipulation in various model systems including yeast, worms, flies and mice. This hypothesis is supported by evidence that inhibition of the TOR (target of rapamycin) pathway and various translation factors that inhibit protein synthesis lead to slowing of growth and development but extend lifespan. Furthermore, dietary restriction (DR) that leads to antagonistic changes in growth and lifespan, also mediates this change by inhibiting protein synthesis. Direct screens to identify genes that extend lifespan from a subset of genes that are essential for growth and development have also uncovered a number of genes involved in protein synthesis. Given the conserved mechanisms of protein synthesis across species, I discuss potential mechanisms that mediate the lifespan extension by inhibition of protein synthesis that are likely to be important for aging and age-related disorders in humans.