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, 30 (2-3), 111-9

Rodents for Comparative Aging Studies: From Mice to Beavers

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Rodents for Comparative Aging Studies: From Mice to Beavers

Vera Gorbunova et al. Age (Dordr).

Abstract

After humans, mice are the best-studied mammalian species in terms of their biology and genetics. Gerontological research has used mice and rats extensively to generate short- and long-lived mutants, study caloric restriction and more. Mice and rats are valuable model organisms thanks to their small size, short lifespans and fast reproduction. However, when the goal is to further extend the already long human lifespan, studying fast aging species may not provide all the answers. Remarkably, in addition to the fast-aging species, the order Rodentia contains multiple long-lived species with lifespans exceeding 20 years (naked mole-rat, beavers, porcupines, and some squirrels). This diversity opens great opportunities for comparative aging studies. Here we discuss the evolution of lifespan in rodents, review the biology of slow-aging rodents, and show an example of how the use of a comparative approach revealed that telomerase activity coevolved with body mass in rodents.

Figures

Fig. 1
Fig. 1
Rodent phylogeny. The tree topology is based on molecular phylogenies inferred from Martin et al. ; Michaux et al. ; Murphy et al. ; Montgelard et al. ; Adkins et al. ; and Steppan et al. 2004). Stars indicate species with lifespan longer than 20 years
Fig. 2
Fig. 2
Correlation of telomerase activity with (a) body mass, and (b) maximum lifespan
Fig. 3
Fig. 3
A model explaining coevolution of telomerase activity and body mass. Evolutionary increases in body mass lead to increased cancer risk. To counteract this risk, large species evolve additional tumor-suppressor mechanisms such as the repression of telomerase activity in somatic cells

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