A group of Russian geneticists studied the Drosophila melanogaster, also called “fruit fly,” a model organism widely used in the research world as its genome is very well known and contains genes related to 40% of human diseases.
Moreover other characteristics, like the duration of the life of only a couple of months and the fact that this insect has two sexes, unlike other creatures like the nematodes, push more and more the researchers to use them during the experiments in order then to make correlations with the human beings. It is also the case of this study, published in Scientific Reports, which analyzed the genetic activity of the fruit fly to better understand the biology underlying the aging of its longevity.
Specifically, they used a Drosophila strain bred with the partially suppressed E (z) gene. It is a gene that influences the activity of other genes. The flies with this mutated gene show a considerably longer lifespan than the others and present greater resistance to adverse environmental conditions.
The researchers not only confirmed the positive effect of this mutation that allows fruit flies to extend their lives by 22-23% but they also discovered a positive effect on fertility as Alexey Moskalev, one of the authors of the study, explains: “It is known that in Drosophila, the extension of lifespan induced by mutation is often associated with reduced reproduction. But in our case, we have seen an increase in mutant female fertility in all age groups.”
They then discovered 239 genes involved in the mutation as well as in the midge’s metabolism as the scientist himself explains: “We found that the mutation triggers a global alteration of metabolism. It affects carbohydrate metabolism, lipid metabolism and nucleotide metabolism, as well as the activity of the immune response genes and protein synthesis.”
Important information that could be useful for further research regarding the extension of the life of these flies and in general concerns aging and metabolism linked to human longevity.
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