Changes to the chromatin structure accompany aging, but the molecular mechanisms underlying aging and the accompanying changes to the chromatin are unclear. Here, we report a mechanism whereby altering chromatin structure regulates life span. We show that normal aging is accompanied by a profound loss of histone proteins from the genome. Indeed, yeast lacking the histone chaperone Asf1 or acetylation of histone H3 on lysine 56 are short lived, and this appears to be at least partly due to their having decreased histone levels. Conversely, increasing the histone supply by inactivation of the histone information regulator (Hir) complex or overexpression of histones dramatically extends life span via a pathway that is distinct from previously known pathways of life span extension. This study indicates that maintenance of the fundamental chromatin structure is critical for slowing down the aging process and reveals that increasing the histone supply extends life span.
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