Communication between mitochondria and lysosomes regulates longevity
People often feel less mobile, energetic or active as they age. It may be partly due to the decline of mitochondria, tiny powerhouses that are found inside our cells and which regulate metabolism and provide energy. Not only do mitochondria decrease with age in humans but also in other species. It is unclear why mitochondria age. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing, Cologne, set out to discover how mitochondrial function diminishes with age. They also wanted to identify factors that could prevent this. The scientists found that the communication between mitochondrial cells and other cell parts is crucial.
The scientists used Caenorhabditis Elegans as a model for their research. More than half of the genes in this animal are identical to those in humans. Their mitochondria also decrease with age. The scientists discovered that a nuclear NFYB-1 protein, which is a switch for genes affecting mitochondrial function, also decreases with age. Mutant worms that lack this protein have mitochondrial dysfunction and live shorter lives.
Scientists discovered, unexpectedly, that NFYB-1 controls the activity of mitochondria via the lysosome. This is a part of the cell where basic molecules are broken and recycled into nutrients. Adam Antebi of Max Planck, Adam Antebi’s laboratory, who led the study, said: \”We believe the lysosome communicates with mitochondria via special fats known as cardiolipins or ceramides which are essential for mitochondrial activity.\” Interestingly, feeding the mutant NFYB-1 worms with cardiolipin restored mitochondrial health and function.