The Innovation (2021-05-01)

Comparative analyses of aging-related genes in long-lived mammals provide insights into natural longevity

  • Zhenpeng Yu,
  • Inge Seim,
  • Mengxin Yin,
  • Ran Tian,
  • Di Sun,
  • Wenhua Ren,
  • Guang Yang,
  • Shixia Xu

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 2, no. 2
p. 100108


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Summary: Extreme longevity has evolved multiple times during the evolution of mammals, yet its underlying molecular mechanisms remain largely underexplored. Here, we compared the evolution of 115 aging-related genes in 11 long-lived species and 25 mammals with non-increased lifespan (control group) in the hopes of better understanding the common molecular mechanisms behind longevity. We identified 16 unique positively selected genes and 23 rapidly evolving genes in long-lived species, which included nine genes involved in regulating lifespan through the insulin/IGF-1 signaling (IIS) pathway and 11 genes highly enriched in immune-response-related pathways, suggesting that the IIS pathway and immune response play a particularly important role in exceptional mammalian longevity. Interestingly, 11 genes related to cancer progression, including four positively selected genes and seven genes with convergent amino acid changes, were shared by two or more long-lived lineages, indicating that long-lived mammals might have evolved convergent or similar mechanisms of cancer resistance that extended their lifespan. This suggestion was further corroborated by our identification of 12 robust candidates for longevity-related genes closely related to cancer.