• Open Access

Lifespan extension by dietary restriction is not linked to protection against somatic DNA damage in Drosophila melanogaster


Jan Vijg, PhD, Professor, Department of Genetics, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, 1301 Morris Park Avenue, Bronx, New York 10461, USA. Tel.: 718 678 1151; fax: 718 678 1021; e-mail: jvijg@aecom.yu.edu


Dietary restriction (DR) has been shown to robustly extend lifespan in multiple species tested so far. The pro-longevity effect of DR is often ascribed to an increase in cellular defense against somatic damage, most notably damage by reactive oxygen species (ROS), considered a major cause of aging. Especially irreversible damage to DNA, the carrier of genetic information, is considered a critical causal factor in aging. Using a recently developed transgenic Drosophila melanogaster model system harboring a lacZ-plasmid construct that can be recovered in E. coli, spontaneous DNA mutation frequency in flies under DR and ad libitum conditions are measured. Three different DR conditions, imposed by manipulating levels of different types of yeast sources, were tested in females and males of two lacZ reporter gene lines. Feeding with the ROS producer paraquat at 1 mM resulted in a rapid accumulation of somatic mutations, indicating that the frequency of mutations at the lacZ locus is a reliable marker for increased oxidative stress. However, none of the DR conditions altered the accumulation of spontaneous mutations with age. These results suggest that the beneficial effects of DR are unlikely to be linked to protection against oxidative somatic DNA damage.