Researchers here make an interesting discovery in the genetics of fly aging. Old flies lose repeated DNA sequences in the genome that encode for RNA related to the ribosome, a cellular structure important in the intricate, multi-stage process by which proteins are created from their genetic blueprints. Protein creation changes in numerous ways in later life, better ribosomal function is associated with greater species longevity, and it is known that ribosomal RNA genes acquire epigenetic markers in a characteristic way with age. How exactly this all links together is yet to be determined in detail.
The more interesting part of the report here is that young flies regain lost ribosomal DNA, if they were the offspring of old parents and thus inherited a genome with few repeats of ribosomal DNA. This suggests that, whatever is going under the hood, the loss of ribosomal RNA genes is a secondary aspect of aging, driven by some other process. We might ask whether this observation in flies is relevant to mammals. It may not be, judging from the results of an older study in aged mice that examined this part of the genome and found
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