Molecular basis of Klotho: from gene to function in aging

Endocr Rev. 2015 Apr;36(2):174-93. doi: 10.1210/er.2013-1079. Epub 2015 Feb 19.


The discovery of the Klotho (KL) gene, which was originally identified as a putative aging-suppressor gene, has generated tremendous interest and has advanced understanding of the aging process. In mice, the overexpression of the KL gene extends the life span, whereas mutations to the KL gene shorten the life span. The human KL gene encodes the α-Klotho protein, which is a multifunctional protein that regulates the metabolism of phosphate, calcium, and vitamin D. α-Klotho also may function as a hormone, although the α-Klotho receptor(s) has not been found. Point mutations of the KL gene in humans are associated with hypertension and kidney disease, which suggests that α-Klotho may be essential to the maintenance of normal renal function. Three α-Klotho protein types with potentially different functions have been identified: a full-length transmembrane α-Klotho, a truncated soluble α-Klotho, and a secreted α-Klotho. Recent evidence suggests that α-Klotho suppresses the insulin and Wnt signaling pathways, inhibits oxidative stress, and regulates phosphatase and calcium absorption. In this review, we provide an update on recent advances in the understanding of the molecular, genetic, biochemical, and physiological properties of the KL gene. Specifically, this review focuses on the structure of the KL gene and the factors that regulate KL gene transcription, the key sites in the regulation of α-Klotho enzyme activity, the α-Klotho signaling pathways, and the molecular mechanisms that underlie α-Klotho function. This current understanding of the molecular biology of the α-Klotho protein may offer new insights into its function and role in aging.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / genetics*
  • Aging / physiology
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Glucuronidase / genetics*
  • Glucuronidase / physiology
  • Humans
  • Oxidative Stress / genetics
  • Oxidative Stress / physiology
  • Phosphates / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • Vitamin D / metabolism
  • Wnt Signaling Pathway / genetics
  • Wnt Signaling Pathway / physiology


  • Phosphates
  • Vitamin D
  • Glucuronidase
  • klotho protein
  • Calcium