Is Longevity Inherited?

Epigenetic mechanisms refer to regulatory processes in cells and organisms that control heritable information, except the DNA sequence. Recent research highlights a key role of epigenetic regulation in determining how long an organism lives and whether that information is passed to its offspring.

Sylvia Lee, Molecular biology and Genetics, will use the powerful genetic model C. elegans to investigate the mystery of how epigenetic regulation influences longevity and its inheritance.

Epigenetic regulation is a fundamental mechanism that bridges the genome with the environment, and it is emerging as a key determinant of longevity. Recent findings in C. elegans provide strong evidence that epigenetic mechanisms, in particular chromatin regulation, are intimately involved in longevity determination and its inheritance. Despite the exciting biological data, the mechanisms of how epigenetic regulation influences longevity are unclear. Lee’s long-term goal to elucidate how epigenetic regulation bridges the genome and the environment to modulate longevity.

Lee believes that she and her research team can gain mechanistic insights into the connection of epigenetic regulation and longevity by studying longevity mutants with disrupted epigenetic mechanisms and by probing how the overall epigenetic landscape changes with age in the model C. elegans.

Findings will provide important insights into the basic biology of aging and may inspire future therapeutic development to promote healthy aging and alleviate age-related diseases. NIH Award Number: 2R01AG024425-11

Cornell Researchers

Funding Received

$2.3 Million spanning 4.5 years

Other Research Sponsored by National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Aging