Limited lifespan and senescence are quantitative traits, controlled by many interacting genes with individually small and environmentally plastic effects, complicating genetic analysis. We performed genome wide analysis of gene expression for two Drosophila melanogaster lines selected for postponed senescence and one control, unselected line to identify candidate genes affecting lifespan as well as variation in lifespan. We obtained gene expression profiles for young flies of all lines, all lines at the time only 10% of the control lines survived, and the time at which 10% of the selected lines survived. Transcriptional responses to aging involved 19% of the genome. The transcriptional signature of aging involved the down-regulation of genes affecting proteolysis, metabolism, oxidative phosphorylation, and mitochrondrial function; and the up-regulation of genes affecting protein synthesis, immunity, defense responses, and the detoxification of xenobiotic substances. The transcriptional signature of postponed senescence involved the up-regulation of proteases and phosphatases and genes affecting detoxification of xenobiotics; and the down-regulation of genes affecting immunity, defense responses, metabolism and muscle function. Functional tests of 17 mutations confirmed 12 novel genes affecting Drosophila lifespan. Identification of genes affecting longevity by analysis of gene expression changes in lines selected for postponed senescence thus complements alternative genetic approaches.
Copyright © 2013. Published by Elsevier Ireland Ltd.