error catastrophe theory
A hypothesis which regards ageing as a decline of body functions due to an increase in error-laden protein synthesis, resulting in an accumulation of defective and non-functioning proteins unable to maintain normal cell function.
Events supporting the error catastrophe theory:
• Errors of DNA duplication increase as cells age
• Error rates in RNA synthesis increase with age, resulting in loss of valuable proteins such as repair enzymes or enzymes that scavenge harmful metabolites
• Protein synthesis is sloppier in older cells
• Unrepaired DNA accumulates with age
• DNA stability and repair efficiency roughly correlate with lifespan.
Orgel had originally applied his theory (Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA 1963: 49: 517-21) to proteins, but realised that a general breakdown in the accuracy of information transfer (predicted by his theory) would also affect DNA synthesis and repair, so that mutations would be expected to increase exponentially during ageing.
Synonyms Orgel’s Error Catastrophe Theory of Ageing and Longevity