The body rids itself of damage when it really matters
Although the body is constantly replacing cells and cell constituents, damage and imperfections accumulate over time.
Cleanup efforts are saved for when it really matters. Researchers from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, are able to show how the body rids itself of damage when it is time to reproduce and create new life.
‘I have a daughter. She is made of my cells yet has much less cellular damage than my cells. Why didn’t she inherit my cells including the damaged proteins? That’s the process I’m interested in,’ says Malin Hernebring from the Department of Cell- and Molecular Biology at the University of Gothenburg.
A few days after conception, the cells in the embryo all look the same – they are unspecified stem cells that can develop into any bodily cell type. As the process of cell specification (differentiation) begins, they go from being able to keep dividing infinitely to being able to do so only a limited number of times. This is when they start cleansing themselves.
‘Quite unexpectedly we found that the level of protein damage was relatively high in the embryo’s unspecified cells, but then it decreased dramatically. A few days after the onset of cell differentiation, the protein damage level had gone down by 80-90 percent. We think this is a result of the damaged material being broken down.’
In the past, researchers have believed that the body keeps cells involved in reproduction isolated and protected from damage. Now it has been shown that these types of cells go through a rejuvenation process that rids them of the inherited damage.
Some types of protein damage in the body increase with age. Although all the necessary information is stored in the DNA, something keeps the body from using it to keep repairing the body.
‘These types of protein damages are what make us appear old, like wrinkles around the eyes. While wrinkles are relatively harmless, serious problems may arise elsewhere in the body. I’m thinking of age-related diseases like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, type 2 diabetes and cancer.’
Malin Hernebring can show that the damaged proteins in the cells are probably broken down by molecular machines called proteasomes. The proteasome activity increases considerably during the initial steps of embryonic stem cell differentiation in mice. Deciphering this rejuvenation process helps us better understand what ageing really is, which in turn may help us slow it down and also prevent the occurrence and ill effects of age-related diseases.
031- 786 2576
Department of Cell- and Molecular Biology
University of Gothenburg
413 90 Göteborg, Sweden
Helena Aaberg | idw
The most recent press releases about innovation >>>
Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
New technique promises tunable laser devices
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...