The process of aging poses a number of important social as well as scientific challenges. From a biological standpoint, our understanding of the aging process has been advanced by genetic studies in model organisms including yeast, Drosophila and C. elegans. Nevertheless, little is known about the molecular mechanisms involved in cellular aging. Having discovered that the bacterium E. coli ages, we propose to use it as a new model organism to study the causes and consequences of aging at the cellular level. E coli is ideal for addressing these issues because it is highly tractable, both for genetic and biochemical applications. In addition, recent work shows that bacteria have a dynamic subcellular organization that is amenable to microscopic observation in live cells. We can monitor aging in real time in the rapidly symmetrically dividing E. coli. Using the state-of-the-art micrfofluidics and single-cell-manipulation techniques, we can follow the asymmetrical segregation of cellular and molecular components that accumulate with age and study alteration in cellular program.
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