, Volume 35, Issue 2, pp 301–314 | Cite as

Accelerated protein evolution analysis reveals genes and pathways associated with the evolution of mammalian longevity

  • Yang Li
  • João Pedro de Magalhães


The genetic basis of the large species differences in longevity and aging remains a mystery. Thanks to recent large-scale genome sequencing efforts, the genomes of multiple species have been sequenced and can be used for cross-species comparisons to study species divergence in longevity. By analyzing proteins under accelerated evolution in several mammalian lineages where maximum lifespan increased, we identified genes and processes that are candidate targets of selection when longevity evolves. We identified several proteins with longevity-specific selection patterns, including COL3A1 that has previously been related to aging and proteins related to DNA damage repair and response such as DDB1 and CAPNS1. Moreover, we found that processes such as lipid metabolism and cholesterol catabolism show such patterns of selection and suggest a link between the evolution of lipid metabolism, cholesterol catabolism, and the evolution of longevity. Lastly, we found evidence that the proteasome–ubiquitin system is under selection specific to lineages where longevity increased and suggest that its selection had a role in the evolution of longevity. These results provide evidence that natural selection acts on species when longevity evolves, give insights into adaptive genetic changes associated with the evolution of longevity in mammals, and provide evidence that at least some repair systems are selected for when longevity increases.


Aging Evolutionary genomics Protein evolution Mammals Proteasome 



YL was supported by a Postgraduate Scholarship from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. JPM thanks the BBSRC (BB/G024774/1 & BB/H008497/1), the Ellison Medical Foundation, and a Marie Curie International Reintegration Grant within EC-FP7 for supporting work in his lab.

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Copyright information

© American Aging Association 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Integrative Genomics of Ageing Group, Institute of Integrative BiologyUniversity of LiverpoolLiverpoolUK
  2. 2.Wellcome Trust Centre for Human GeneticsUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK

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