Aging is associated with a gradual decline in cognitive and motor functions, the result of complex biochemical processes including pre- and posttranslational modifications of proteins. Sirtuins are NAD+ dependent protein deacetylases. These enzymes modulate the aging process by lysine deacetylation, which alters the activity and stability of proteins. Exercise can increase mean life-span and improve quality of life. Data from our laboratories revealed that 4 weeks of treadmill running improves performance in the Morris Maze test for young (4 months, old) but not old (30 months, old) male rats, and the exercise could not prevent the age-associated loss in muscle strength assessed by a gripping test. The positive correlation between protein acetylation and the gripping test suggests that the age-dependent decrease in relative activity of SIRT1 in the cerebellum impairs motor function. Similarly to the acetylation level of total proteins, the acetylation of α′-tubulin is also increased with aging, while the effect of exercise training was not found to be significant. Moreover, the protein content of nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase, one of the key enzymes of NAD biosynthesis, decreased in the young exercise group. These data suggest that aging results in decreased specific activity of SIRT1 in cerebellum, which could lead to increased acetylation of protein residues, including α′-tubulin, that interfere with motor function.
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