Indexed on: 21 Jan '15Published on: 21 Jan '15Published in: Cell
Viable yet damaged cells can accumulate during development and aging. Although eliminating those cells may benefit organ function, identification of this less fit cell population remains challenging. Previously, we identified a molecular mechanism, based on "fitness fingerprints" displayed on cell membranes, which allows direct fitness comparison among cells in Drosophila. Here, we study the physiological consequences of efficient cell selection for the whole organism. We find that fitness-based cell culling is naturally used to maintain tissue health, delay aging, and extend lifespan in Drosophila. We identify a gene, azot, which ensures the elimination of less fit cells. Lack of azot increases morphological malformations and susceptibility to random mutations and accelerates tissue degeneration. On the contrary, improving the efficiency of cell selection is beneficial for tissue health and extends lifespan.