M.D., Ph. D.
Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
Altered Mitochondrial Function in Transgenic Models of Cutaneous Aging
Mitochondria are the organelles within cells that are responsible
for generating much of the required energy for cell survival.
Mitochondria have their own DNA (mtDNA) which encodes
some of the necessary proteins to carry out these biochemical
reactions. Recently, there has been an increased interest in
mitochondria as playing an important role in the process of
cellular aging and cancer. Studies indicate that deleterious changes
(mutations) accrue in the mtDNA with aging as the cellsí energy
generating capabilities decline. These mtDNA changes have also
been linked to cancerous changes in some tissues. Current
understanding of the role that mtDNA changes have on the
process of aging has been limited without available means of
introduction of altered mtDNA in an animal model system. My
laboratory seeks to develop animal models with dysfunctional
mitochondria using new technologies that enable the genetic
manipulation of the mitochondria in the mouse. The link between
mtDNA mutations and the aging process in the skin is being
studied in these animals with the ultimate goal of evaluation of
new therapies designed for blocking or reversing the development
of skin cancer.