Ageing is a regulated process in which hormones have pivotal roles. Crystal structures of two hormone co-receptors should be informative for drug discovery focused on age-related disorders.
In Greek mythology, three goddesses known as the Fates govern the lifespan of each person. Klotho, Lachesis and Atropos are the spinner, the allotter and the cutter of the thread of life, respectively. So when a genetic mutation was identified in mice that undergo premature ageing1, the gene involved was fittingly named klotho. The protein it encodes, α-klotho, and a sister protein called β-klotho, are high-affinity co-receptors for certain members of the fibroblast growth factor (FGF) family of signalling proteins2, but their means of action has not been well characterized. Two papers3,4 online in Nature describe crystal structures of FGF–klotho complexes, not only providing a basis for understanding how klothos act, but also opening up avenues for structure-based drug design.
Proteins related to aging will be important for treating aging related diseases and preventing aging in the future. Proteins can include FGF23 as well as a variety of repair proteins.