Scientists have sequenced the complete genome of the naked mole rat, a pivotal step to understanding the animal's extraordinarily long life and good health. A colony of more than 2,000 naked mole rats at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio contributed to the findings, published today in the journal Nature.
"If we understand which genes are different or are expressed differently in naked mole rats — compared to short-lived mice that clearly have poor defenses against aging and cancer — we might find clues as to why the naked mole rat is able to extend both health span and longevity, as well as fight cancer, and this information could be directly relevant and translatable to humans," said Rochelle Buffenstein, Ph.D., professor of physiology at the Barshop Institute for Longevity and Aging Studies, part of the UT Health Science Center San Antonio. Dr. Buffenstein worked on the study with Thomas Park, Ph.D., of the University of Chicago; Vadim Gladyshev, Ph.D., of Harvard Medical School; the Beijing Genomics Institute; and other collaborators.
The mouse-sized naked mole rat is the longest-lived rodent known, surviving up to 31 years in captivity. This is much longer than its laboratory rodent relatives, and the naked mole rat maintains good health and reproductive potential well into its third decade. Naked mole rats live underground in large family groups, like termites and bees, with only a single breeding female. These social rodents are extremely tolerant of life in low oxygen and high levels of carbon dioxide.
The naked mole rat's capacity to resist cancer and maintain protein integrity in the face of oxidative damage makes it an ideal animal model for aging and biomedical research, Dr. Buffenstein said. "Deciphering the animal's genetic blueprint is an important step to unlocking the keys to the naked mole rat's extraordinary longevity," she said. "This study reveals many of the genetic secrets to their extraordinary longevity, cancer resistance and pain tolerance, and their ability to survive in a low-oxygen environment. Indeed, having this animal's genetic blueprint is a treasure trove for many areas of biology and medicine because the genome will now be available to scientists everywhere to explore in their favored research area."
Barshop Institute Director Arlan Richardson, Ph.D., said: "The data in this Nature paper are very important for aging research because they give us the first glimpse into how the naked mole rat lives 10 times longer than its distant cousins, the mouse and rat."
Naked mole rats resemble pink, saber-toothed "sausages." Previous studies have yielded important insights into how the naked mole rat is able to rewire its brain (a process called neural plasticity), tolerate low oxygen and low body temperatures, and show cancer-free good health well into old age.
"Understanding their genomic footprint may reveal how they are able to maintain the integrity of their proteins and DNA far better than other animals do in old age, as well as how they mitigate the translation of oxidative damage into age-related declines and disease," Dr. Buffenstein said.
For current news from the UT Health Science Center San Antonio, please visit our news release website or follow us on Twitter @uthscsa.
About the UT Health Science Center San Antonio
The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, one of the country's leading health sciences universities, ranks in the top 3 percent of all institutions worldwide receiving federal funding. Research and other sponsored program activity totaled $228 million in fiscal year 2010. The university's schools of medicine, nursing, dentistry, health professions and graduate biomedical sciences have produced approximately 26,000 graduates. The $744 million operating budget supports eight campuses in San Antonio, Laredo, Harlingen and Edinburg. For more information on the many ways "We make lives better®," visit www.uthscsa.edu.
Will Sansom | EurekAlert!
More genes are active in high-performance maize
19.01.2018 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
How plants see light
19.01.2018 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.
We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...
What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...
For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.
Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...
At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.
No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.
Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...
08.01.2018 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
19.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
19.01.2018 | Materials Sciences
19.01.2018 | Life Sciences