Researchers identify gene with functional role in ageing of eye
In studies on mice, a \”methylation timer\” on the ELOVL2 genes ticks towards impaired vision. However, when gene expression is boosted, age related visual function improves.
The biomarker for age is a gene with a long name, Elongation of very Long Chain Fatty Acids Protein 2 (ELOVL2). Researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine have published a paper online in the journal Aging Cell on January 14, 2020. They say that the gene seems to play a major role in age associated functional and anatomical ageing in vivo, in mouse retinas. This finding has direct relevance for age-related eye disease.
The research team led by Dorota Krawczyk PhD, senior author in the Viterbi Family Department of Ophthalmology, Shiley Eye Institute at UC San Diego, discovered that a decrease in ELOVL2 expression with age was linked to increased DNA methylation of the promoter. Methylation, a biochemical process that involves the transfer of groups of hydrogen and carbon atoms from one substance into another, is a straightforward procedure. In DNA, methylation can negatively impact gene expression.
Researchers reversed hypermethylation and boosted ELOVL2 in vivo. This rescued the age-related decline of visual function in mice. The authors wrote: \”These findings suggest that ELOVL2 actively controls aging in the mouse retina. They provide a molecular connection between polyunsaturated fatty acid elongation, and visual functions. And they suggest novel therapeutic strategies for treating age-related eye disease.\”