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Fly Single-Nucleus Transcriptome Map Shows Effects of Aging

Researchers have developed a single-nucleus transcriptome map of various Drosophila melanogaster tissues at different points in its lifespan, a resource they have dubbed the Aging Fly Cell Atlas. A research team from academia and industry built on the previous Fly Cell Atlas, which generated a single-cell atlas of 5-day-old adult flies, and sequenced more than 868,000 nuclei from both head and body tissues from 30-day-old, 50-day-old, and 70-day-old male and female flies. As they report in Science, the researchers characterized more than 160 cell types and compared changes in gene expression across those cell types as the flies aged as well as differences in cell composition itself. For instance, the Neuroligin 1 gene, a marker of indirect flight muscles in the fly, underwent a dramatic decline with age. Additionally, patterns within the single-nucleus transcriptome could predict the fly's age. "A critical observation of this study is that cell type-specific aging patterns in cells can be used to gauge biological age, that is the relative aging status of an organism, independent of its chronological age," co-corresponding author Heinrich Jasper from Genentech says in a statement. "This will provide further insight into factors, such as diets, drugs and diseases, that may change the aging trajectory and hence make an organism 'younger' or 'older' than its chronological age."