The cell biology of aging.
<p>One of the original hypotheses of organismal longevity posits that aging is the natural result of entropy on the cells, tissues, and organs of the animal--a slow, inexorable slide into nonfunctionality caused by stochastic degradation of its parts. We now have evidence that aging is instead at least in part genetically regulated. Many mutations have been discovered to extend lifespan in organisms of all complexities, from yeast to mammals. The study of metazoan model organisms, such as Caenorhabditis elegans, has been instrumental in understanding the role of genetics in the cell biology of aging. Longevity mutants across the spectrum of model organisms demonstrate that rates of aging are regulated through genetic control of cellular processes. The regulation and subsequent breakdown of cellular processes represent a programmatic decision by the cell to either continue or abandon maintenance procedures with age. Our understanding of cell biological processes involved in regulating aging have been particularly informed by longevity mutants and treatments, such as reduced insulin/IGF-1 signaling and dietary restriction, which are critical in determining the distinction between causes of and responses to aging and have revealed a set of downstream targets that participate in a range of cell biological activities. Here we briefly review some of these important cellular processes.</p>