Thesis Title

Investigating the Genetic Mechanisms of Lifespan Extension by Dietary Restriction in D. Melanogaster

Graduation Date

Spring 2010

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Program Name

Biological Science

Program Director

Kiowa Bower, PhD

First Reader

Pankaj Kapahi, PhD

Abstract

Dietary restriction (DR) is a robust, drug free intervention that has been shown to increase active and healthy lifespan across a wide range of species. Despite the variety in techniques used to induce DR in different species, conserved relationships are emerging among multiple species. A number of groups within the scientific community have identified genes that play an important role in mediating the effects of DR in yeast, worms and flies. The Kapahi laboratory has previously discovered an important role for the target of rapamycin (TOR) pathway, and that downstream changes in its mRNA translation play an important role in lifespan extension by DR. However, the downstream mechanisms by which DR modulates lifespan remain poorly understood. My thesis focuses on identifying the role of candidate genes from these studies to identify novel pathways related to diet dependent lifespan extension. Using the model organism Drosophila melanogaster, whose sequenced genome, simple and economical handling techniques, and powerful genetic tools provide an excellent opportunity by which to understand the basic mechanisms of aging. Given the conservation of genes across species, many results from these experiments are likely to have important significance for human health.

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