The ribosomal RNA gene (rDNA) repeats form a historically well-researched region in the chromosome. Their highly repetitive structure can be identified easily which has enabled studies on DNA replication, recombination, and transcription. The region is one of the most unstable regions in the genome because of deleterious recombination among the repeats. The ribosomal RNA gene repeats use a unique gene amplification system to restore the copy number after this has been reduced due to recombination. It has been shown that unstable features in the genome can accelerate cellular senescence that restricts the lifespan of a cell. Here, I will introduce a study by our group that shows how the stability of rDNA is maintained and affects lifespan. I propose that the ribosomal RNA gene repeats constitute a center from which the stability of the whole genome is regulated and the lifespan of the cell is controlled.
At least 150 different human proteins are anchored to the outer leaflet of the plasma membrane via glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI). GPI preassembled in the endoplasmic reticulum is attached to the protein’s carboxyl-terminus as a post-translational modification by GPI transamidase. Twenty-two PIG (for Phosphatidyl Inositol Glycan) genes are involved in the biosynthesis and protein-attachment of GPI. After attachment to proteins, both lipid and glycan moieties of GPI are structurally remodeled in the endoplasmic reticulum and Golgi apparatus. Four PGAP (for Post GPI Attachment to Proteins) genes are involved in the remodeling of GPI. GPI-anchor deficiencies caused by somatic and germline mutations in the PIG and PGAP genes have been found and characterized. The characteristics of the 26 PIG and PGAP genes and the GPI deficiencies caused by mutations in these genes are reviewed.