New Scholar Award in Aging
James E. Sligh, 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.

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