Inter-tissue convergence of gene expression during ageing suggests age-related loss of tissue and cellular identity (Research Article)

Figure 2 - eLife


Developmental trajectories of gene expression may reverse in their direction during ageing, a phenomenon previously linked to cellular identity loss. Our analysis of cerebral cortex, lung, liver and muscle transcriptomes of 16 mice, covering development and ageing intervals, revealed widespread but tissue-specific ageing-associated expression reversals. Cumulatively, these reversals create a unique phenomenon: mammalian tissue transcriptomes diverge from each other during postnatal development, but during ageing, they tend to converge towards similar expression levels, a process we term Divergence followed by Convergence, or DiCo. We found that DiCo was most prevalent among tissue-specific genes and associated with loss of tissue identity, which is confirmed using data from independent mouse and human datasets. Further, using publicly available single-cell transcriptome data, we showed that DiCo could be driven both by alterations in tissue cell type composition and also by cell-autonomous expression changes within particular cell types.

H. Melike Dönertaş
H. Melike Dönertaş
Group Leader

Computational biologist working at the intersection of ageing and microbiome research.