Scientists of the IKMB together with colleagues from the University Hospital Schleswig-Holstein, Kiel, and from other universities and institutions in Germany, Denmark and France published their research results in Nature Communications this week.
Flachsbart F, Dose J, Gentschew L, Geismann C, Caliebe A, Knecht C, Nygaard M, Badarinarayan N, ElSharawy A, May S, Luzius A, Torres GG, Jentzsch M, Forster M, Häesler R, Pallauf K, Lieb W, Derbois C, Galan P, Drichel D, Arlt A, Andreas Till A, Krause-Kyora B, Rimbach G, Blanché H, Deleuze J-F, Christiansen L, Christensen K, Nothnagel M, Rosenstiel P, Schreiber S, Franke A, Sebens S, Nebel A.
FOXO3 is consistently annotated as a human longevity gene. However, functional variants and underlying mechanisms for the association remain unknown. Here, we perform resequencing of the FOXO3 locus and single nucleotide variant (SNV) genotyping in three European populations. We find two FOXO3 SNVs, rs12206094 and rs4946935, to be most significantly associated with longevity and further characterize them functionally. We experimentally validate the in silico predicted allele-dependent binding of transcription factors (CTCF, SRF) to the SNVs. Specifically, in luciferase reporter assays, the longevity alleles of both variants show considerable enhancer activities that are reversed by IGF-1 treatment. An eQTL database search reveals that the alleles are also associated with higher FOXO3 mRNA expression in various human tissues, which is in line with observations in long-lived model organisms. We here present first experimental evidence for a functional link between common intronic variants in FOXO3 and human longevity.