OPEN Science advances | 15 Feb 2018
NM Foley, GM Hughes, Z Huang, M Clarke, D Jebb, CV Whelan, EJ Petit, F Touzalin, O Farcy, G Jones, RD Ransome, J Kacprzyk, MJ O'Connell, G Kerth, H Rebelo, L Rodrigues, SJ Puechmaille and EC Teeling
Understanding aging is a grand challenge in biology. Exceptionally long-lived animals have mechanisms that underpin extreme longevity. Telomeres are protective nucleotide repeats on chromosome tips that shorten with cell division, potentially limiting life span. Bats are the longest-lived mammals for their size, but it is unknown whether their telomeres shorten. Using >60 years of cumulative mark-recapture field data, we show that telomeres shorten with age inRhinolophus ferrumequinumandMiniopterus schreibersii, but not in the bat genus with greatest longevity,Myotis. As in humans, telomerase is not expressed inMyotis myotisblood or fibroblasts. Selection tests on telomere maintenance genes show thatATMandSETX, which repair and prevent DNA damage, potentially mediate telomere dynamics inMyotisbats. Twenty-one telomere maintenance genes are differentially expressed inMyotis, of which 14 are enriched for DNA repair, and 5 for alternative telomere-lengthening mechanisms. We demonstrate how telomeres, telomerase, and DNA repair genes have contributed to the evolution of exceptional longevity inMyotisbats, advancing our understanding of healthy aging.
* Data courtesy of Altmetric.com