Transnational NCKU team reveals molecular mystery aging process
The China Post news staffTAIPEI, Taiwan -- The mystery of the missing link between aging and genes was discovered by Taiwan's National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) together with Canada's University of Alberta (UAlberta) and U.S.' Institute for Systems Biology (ISB), with the findings published in the Feb. 28 issue of CELL, said NCKU.
March 13, 2013, 12:15 am TWN
Dr. Jung-Hsien Chiang from the Department of Computer Science and Information Engineering, who leads the NCKU team, has revealed that the mechanisms of aging are associated with the nuclear pore complexes (NPCs) as an active participant in gene silencing and the formation of peripheral heterochromatin.
The paper titled “A Role for the Nucleoporin Nup170p in Chromatin Structure and Gene Silencing” describes the revolutionary findings in which the seven-member transnational research team draws a clear picture that the role of yeast NPC protein Nup170p in subtelomeric gene silencing is linked to its association with the chromatin-remodeling complex.
Chiang explained that the aging of cells is closely related to telomere length and each time a cell divides, the telomere gets shorter and eventually leads to cell death; however, to date, it is unclear what functional role NPCs play in establishing and maintaining distinct chromatin domains within living cells.
“Our team has uncovered that the binding of Nup170p to subtelomeric chromatin is cooperative and necessary for the association of telomeres with the nuclear envelope, which is a comprehensive roadmap to explain how Nup170p plays a physiological role at telomeres,” Chiang added.
The team also successfully illustrated that the Nup170p with regions of the genome contain ribosomal protein and subtelomeric genes, where it functions as a repressor of transcription.
Chiang said, “This is the first time that we reveal functional interactions between Nup170p and chromatin domains that generally reside adjacent to the nuclear envelope, including subtelomeric and telomeric regions.”
The members of the team are eminent scholars in their own fields in which the University of Alberta took charge of cell biology; ISB tackled gene expression profiling; and NCKU focused on bioinformatics computing.
Chiang's team at NCKU tackles data retrieval from the research and systematic computations provided by NCKU, which facilitated in deciphering the mystery of aging.
The result of the study is the preliminary effort toward a general understanding of the aging mechanism, according to Chiang, who noted that the research project is still ongoing and more investment will be made in the coming future.