FOXO in aging: did evolutionary diversification of FOXO function distract it from prolonging life?
BioEssays, 1101–1110 (2013)
In this paper we contrast the simple role of FOXO in the seemingly non-aging Hydra with its more diversified function in multicellular eukaryotes that manifest aging and limited life spans. From this comparison we develop the concept that, whilst once devoted to life-prolonging cell-renewal (in Hydra), evolutionary accumulation of coupled functionality in FOXO has since ‘distracted’ it from this role. Seen in this light, aging may not be the direct cost of competing functions, such as reproduction or growth, but the result of a shift in emphasis in a protein, which is accompanied by advantages such as greater organismal complexity and adaptability, but also disadvantages such as reduced regeneration capacity. Studying the role of FOXO in non-aging organisms might, therefore, illuminate the path to extend life span in aging organisms.