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The Secret Behind Aging: Somatic Mutation Might Be The Key

TAIPEI, TAIWAN, Apr.30, 2022 - Aging is one of the biggest mysteries in the world. Human as one of the mammal species, our life expectancy at birth is nearly 80 years old. Meanwhile, mammals have all kinds of lifespan ranging from six months to 200 years old. Scientists have been curious about why the lifespan across different mammalian species is so different.

Now, the first study to compare the somatic mutation across 16 mammalian species reveals an interesting fact about the role of the DNA changes in aging. Researchers from the Wellcome Sanger Institute published a study that despite huge variations in lifespan and size, different animal species end their life with similar numbers of genetic changes. This means that the short-living animals have a quicker rate of DNA mutations. In contrast, the long-living animals are capable of slowing down the mutations regardless of their body size.

With the advancement in DNA sequencing technologies, the researchers used whole-genome sequencing data generated from more than 200 colorectal crypt samples from 16 mammalian species including 56 individual animals. This study shows that mutations play a role in aging and in multiple diseases. By this surprising fact, the scientists found that all the animals in the study converged on about 3,200 mutations during their lifetime.

In this study, the author provides a detailed description of somatic mutation across mammals, identifying common and variable features and shedding light on long-standing hypotheses. Cross-species studies are able to help scientists to transform our understanding of somatic mutation and its effect on evolution, aging, and disease. There would be more studies related to different diverse species somatic mutations such as insects or plants in the future. Genomic study has opened a new door for any possibilities to understand our lives, disease, and animals. We all look forward to seeing what would be the next new discoveries!


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