Aging entails a progressive decline in protein homeostasis, which often leads to age-related diseases. The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is the site of protein synthesis and maturation for secreted and membrane proteins. Correct folding of ER proteins requires covalent attachment of N-linked glycan oligosaccharides. Here, we report that increased synthesis of N-glycan precursors in the hexosamine pathway improves ER protein homeostasis and extends lifespan in C. elegans. Addition of the N-glycan precursor N-acetylglucosamine to the growth medium slows aging in wild-type animals and alleviates pathology of distinct neurotoxic disease models. Our data suggest that reduced aggregation of metastable proteins and lifespan extension depend on enhanced ER-associated protein degradation, proteasomal activity, and autophagy. Evidently, hexosamine pathway activation or N-acetylglucosamine supplementation induces distinct protein quality control mechanisms, which may allow therapeutic intervention against age-related and proteotoxic diseases.
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