Autophagy, an evolutionarily conserved cytoplasmic degradation system, has been implicated as a convergent mechanism in various longevity pathways. Autophagic activity decreases with age in several organisms, but the underlying mechanism is unclear. Here, we show that the expression of Rubicon, a negative regulator of autophagy, increases in aged worm, fly and mouse tissues at transcript and/or protein levels, suggesting that an age-dependent increase in Rubicon impairs autophagy over time, and thereby curtails animal healthspan. Consistent with this idea, knockdown of Rubicon extends worm and fly lifespan and ameliorates several age-associated phenotypes. Tissue-specific experiments reveal that Rubicon knockdown in neurons has the greatest effect on lifespan. Rubicon knockout mice exhibits reductions in interstitial fibrosis in kidney and reduced α-synuclein accumulation in the brain. Rubicon is suppressed in several long-lived worms and calorie restricted mice. Taken together, our results suggest that suppression of autophagic activity by Rubicon is one of signatures of aging.
ASJC Scopus subject areas