Evidence for premature aging in a Drosophila model of Werner syndrome
Werner syndrome (WS) is an autosomal recessive progeroid disease characterized by patients' early onset of aging, increased risk of cancer and other age-related pathologies. WS is caused by mutations in WRN, a RecQ helicase that has essential roles responding to DNA damage and preventing genomic instability. While human WRN has both an exonuclease and helicase domain, Drosophila WRNexo has high genetic and functional homology to only the exonuclease domain of WRN. Like WRN-deficient human cells, Drosophila WRNexo null mutants (WRNexoΔ) are sensitive to replication stress, demonstrating mechanistic similarities between these two models. Compared to age-matched wild-type controls, WRNexoΔ flies exhibit increased physiological signs of aging, such as shorter lifespans, higher tumor incidence, muscle degeneration, reduced climbing ability, altered behavior, and reduced locomotor activity. Interestingly, these effects are more pronounced in females suggesting sex-specific differences in the role of WRNexo in aging. This and future mechanistic studies will contribute to our knowledge in linking faulty DNA repair mechanisms with the process of aging.
Cassidy, Deirdre; Epiney, Derek G.; Salameh, Charlotte; Zhou, Luhan; Salomon, Robert N.; Schirmer, Aaron E.; McVey, Mitch; and Bolterstein, Elyse, "Evidence for premature aging in a Drosophila model of Werner syndrome" (2019). Biology Faculty Publications. 30.