A new gene, termed klotho, has been identified that is involved in the suppression of several ageing phenotypes. A defect in klotho gene expression in the mouse results in a syndrome that resembles human ageing, including a short lifespan, infertility, arteriosclerosis, skin atrophy, osteoporosis and emphysema. The gene encodes a membrane protein that shares sequence similarity with the β-glucosidase enzymes. The klotho gene product may function as part of a signalling pathway that regulates ageing in vivo and morbidity in age-related diseases.
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