Lisbon, Portugal - May 8 - 9, 2024

Telomere elongation in the intestine extends lifespan in zebrafish

Miguel Godinho Ferreira

PhD, Directeur de Recherche CNRS (Institute for Research on Cancer and Aging of Nice), Nice, France.

Miguel Godinho Ferreira has expertise in telomere biology, cell cycle regulation and DNA repair both in fission yeast and zebrafish. Since 2006, as an independent team leader at the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, Miguel focused on the molecular mechanisms underlying genome protection and their consequences (Carneiro et al Nature 2010; Reis et al EMBO J 2012; Avelar et al Nat Comm 2013; Hentges et al Cell Reports 2014; Escandell et al EMBO J 2019).
One major scientific event impelled he to take this challenge using zebrafish as a model system. They showed that, like any other age-associated phenotype, zebrafish telomerase mutants anticipate spontaneous cancer to early age (Henriques et al PLoS Gen 2013; Carneiro et al PLoS Gen 2016; El-Mai et al eLife 2020; Lex et al PNAS 2020; El-Mai et al eLife 2023). This exciting result anticipates that telomere shortening dictates the timing of cancer incidence rather than its actual levels and, therefore, could explain why cancer incidence increases with age.

Telomere elongation in the intestine extends lifespan in zebrafish

The intestine plays a crucial role in an anti-aging approach as well as general health. The more we age, the less the digestive tract serves as a barrier, allowing the undesirable particles and bacteria that cause the more rapid aging of the organism to pass through. In a new study, Miguel Godinho Ferreira and his team at the Institute for Research on Cancer and Aging (Ircan) in Nice, have studied the impact on aging of telomere length in the intestinal cells of zebrafish. As with humans, these chromosome extremities shrink faster in the intestine than in other organs during the course of a life, which is why this process plays such an important role in aging. The proximity between telomere length among zebrafish and humans opens prospects for counteracting aging. Researchers are simultaneously studying the pathologies associated with shrinking telomere length, including cancer as well as neurodegenerative, immune, and gastrointestinal diseases.