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Sirtuin shown to control gene activity

Study is first to show such governance, reveals protein’s possible anti-aging link

A formerly underappreciated member of the sirtuin family of proteins may hold the key to youthfulness and is the first sirtuin shown to specifically govern the activity of genes, scientists report.

Researchers from Stanford University report in the Jan. 9 Cell that SIRT6, a sibling of the aging-related protein SIRT1, is an important regulator of gene activity in mice.

“This is a big, big discovery,” says Raul Mostoslavsky, a chromatin biologist at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center and Harvard University Medical School in Boston. And one, he adds, that could shift some of the limelight away from SIRT1, a molecule implicated in the aging process.

“I’d say 95 percent of the literature is on SIRT1. I think that is going to change,” Mostoslavsky says. “People will start realizing that other sirtuins are probably important for regulating many biological functions.”

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