Proteomic analysis of age-dependent changes in protein solubility identifies genes that modulate lifespan

Aging Cell. 2012 Feb;11(1):120-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1474-9726.2011.00765.x. Epub 2011 Dec 11.


While it is generally recognized that misfolding of specific proteins can cause late-onset disease, the contribution of protein aggregation to the normal aging process is less well understood. To address this issue, a mass spectrometry-based proteomic analysis was performed to identify proteins that adopt sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS)-insoluble conformations during aging in Caenorhabditis elegans. SDS-insoluble proteins extracted from young and aged C. elegans were chemically labeled by isobaric tagging for relative and absolute quantification (iTRAQ) and identified by liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry. Two hundred and three proteins were identified as being significantly enriched in an SDS-insoluble fraction in aged nematodes and were largely absent from a similar protein fraction in young nematodes. The SDS-insoluble fraction in aged animals contains a diverse range of proteins including a large number of ribosomal proteins. Gene ontology analysis revealed highly significant enrichments for energy production and translation functions. Expression of genes encoding insoluble proteins observed in aged nematodes was knocked down using RNAi, and effects on lifespan were measured. 41% of genes tested were shown to extend lifespan after RNAi treatment, compared with 18% in a control group of genes. These data indicate that genes encoding proteins that become insoluble with age are enriched for modifiers of lifespan. This demonstrates that proteomic approaches can be used to identify genes that modify lifespan. Finally, these observations indicate that the accumulation of insoluble proteins with diverse functions may be a general feature of aging.

MeSH terms

  • Aging / genetics*
  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / genetics*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / metabolism
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / genetics*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression*
  • Humans
  • Longevity / genetics*
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Proteomics
  • RNA Interference
  • Ribosomal Proteins / genetics
  • Ribosomal Proteins / metabolism
  • Sodium Dodecyl Sulfate
  • Solubility
  • Staining and Labeling


  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • Ribosomal Proteins
  • Sodium Dodecyl Sulfate