JNK, Oxidative Stress and Aging
The JNK signaling pathway is a conserved MAP kinase system that regulates multiple
cell functions including cell mobility, stress response and apoptosis. Our research
in Drosophila has identified a function of JNK in the controlling aging and longevity.
We are interested in the relationship between cellular oxidative stress defense and aging. Previous data showed that JNK signaling can induce a genetic program that confers stress resistance, and that active JNK signaling can prolong lifespan in Drosophila (Wang et al., 2003). Further, we showed that the life-extending effect of JNK is mediated by activation of the transcription factor Foxo (a.k.a. Daf 16 in C. elegans) and by suppressing the effects of insulin/IGF signaling (Wang et al. 2005). These findings established Drosophila as a model for studying the cross talk between stress and metabolic signaling, which underlies pathologies such as diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Current research addresses the downstream effects of JNK in this context, for example its role in regulating autophagy and the effects of JNK signaling on insulin responses.