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DNA disorganization linked to aging

Study of adult progeria gene shows that resulting cell chaos leads to graying hair, brittle bones

2:00pm, April 30, 2015

NUCLEAR DISARRAY  Normally tightly packed bundles of DNA (as in the normal stem cells, left) come undone in cells that age prematurely (right), enlarging their nuclei and promoting aging.

Old cells do not go gently into that good night. In people who age prematurely, changes in the way that DNA is tightly packed in cells leads to mayhem that promotes the aging process, researchers have discovered.

Werner syndrome, a genetic disorder also known as adult progeria, leads to graying hair, cataracts, osteoporosis and other signs of aging in people in their 20s. Researchers investigating the syndrome found that mutations associated with the disorder disrupt DNA packaging. These packaging changes unleash genes that shouldn’t be turned on, promoting premature aging, an international team of scientists report online April 30 in Science.

The scientists also observed some of the same packaging changes in cells of otherwise healthy old people, suggesting that the alterations also drive ordinary aging. Future research into the process could lead to ways to treat age-related

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