Conservation of the Mitochondrial Unfolded Protein Response in Aging

By: Chris Bennett

The mitochondrial unfolded protein response (UPRmt) has been shown to play an important role in aging of C. elegans by studies from the Dillin Lab. The inhibition of mitochondrial activity can extend lifespan in worms. This is not simply the result of lowered oxidative damage, but requires induction of a mitochondrial stress response known as the UPRmt. The UPRmt is thought to signal from the mitochondria to the nucleus to cause changes in gene expression to improve mitochondrial protein homeostasis in a cell autonomous and non-autonomous fashion. We are performing genetic screens to identify key genes involved in this response in order to better understand communication between the mitochondria and nucleus and its important role in aging.  These screens are being performed in both yeast and C. elegans in order to understand which aspects of the UPRmt have been evolutionarily conserved and whether the importance of this pathway in aging is also conserved.