Sirtuins are recently discovered NAD+-dependent deacetylases that remove acetyl groups from acetyllysine-modified proteins, thereby regulating the biological function of their targets. Sirtuins have been shown to increase organism and tissue survival in diverse organisms, ranging from yeast to mammals. Evidence indicates that NAD+ metabolism and sirtuins contribute to mechanisms that influence cell survival under conditions of stress and toxicity. For example, recent work has shown that sirtuins and increased NAD+ biosynthesis provide protection against neuron axonal degeneration initiated by genotoxicity or trauma. In light of their protective effects, sirtuins and NAD+ metabolism could represent therapeutic targets for treatment of acute and chronic neurodegenerative conditions. Our work has focused on elucidating the enzymatic functions of sirtuins and quantifying perturbations of cellular NAD+ metabolism. We have developed mass spectrometry methods to quantitate cellular NAD+ and nicotinamide. These methods allow the quantitation of changes in the amounts of these metabolites in cells caused by chemical and genetic interventions. Characterization of the biochemical properties of sirtuins and investigations of NAD+ metabolism are likely to provide new insights into mechanisms by which NAD+ metabolism regulates sirtuin activities in cells. To develop new strategies to improve cell stress resistance, we have initiated proof of concept studies on pharmacological approaches that target sirtuins and NAD+ metabolism, with the goal of enhancing cell protection against genotoxicity.
Keywords: Sirtuins, Sir2, gene silencing, toxicity, genotoxins, longevity, NAD, metabolism, SIRT1