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Scientists find differences in naked mole rat's protein disposers

Date:
May 11, 2012
Source:
University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio
Summary:
The naked mole rat's unusually long and healthy life span may be explained by cellular machinery that disposes of damaged proteins. Scientists found that this machinery differs in composition from that of other rodents.

The naked mole-rat, a curiously strange, hairless rodent, lives many years longer than any other mouse or rat. Scientists at The University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio's Barshop Institute of Longevity and Aging Studies continue to explore this mystery.

On May 2 a Barshop Institute team reported that the naked mole-rat's cellular machines for protein disposal -- called proteasome assemblies -- differ in composition from those of other short-lived rodents. The study is in the journal PLoS ONE.

This is the first report of the molecular mechanisms that underlie the naked mole-rat's superior ability to maintain protein integrity. "More effective removal of damaged proteins within the cell would enable the animal to be able to maintain good function and is likely to contribute to its excellent maintenance of good health well into its third decade of life," said Rochelle Buffenstein, Ph.D., of the Barshop Institute. Dr. Buffenstein is a professor of physiology and cellular and structural biology in the School of Medicine at the UT Health Science Center.

Protein integrity

Dr. Buffenstein and her research team in 2009 reported that the naked mole-rat maintains exceptional protein integrity throughout its long and healthy life. In the new study, the team found a greater number of proteasomes and higher protein-disposal activity in naked mole-rat liver cells.

The Barshop Institute scientists, including lead author Karl Rodriguez, Ph.D., postdoctoral fellow, and Yael Edrey, graduate student, also found large numbers of immunoproteasomes in the liver cells -- a bit of a surprise because these protein disposers, which remove antigens after presentation in the immune system, are more commonly found in the spleen and thymus.

"Given the high levels of oxidative damage routinely seen in liver tissue of naked mole-rats, it is likely that, in the liver, these immunoproteasomes may play a critical role in the processing of oxidatively damaged proteins," Dr. Buffenstein said.

Oxidative stress

Oxygen is a reactive molecule, rusting unsealed metals and darkening fruit. In the body over time, it is thought to cause an accumulation of damage leading to functional decline, diseases and aging. This is called the oxidative stress theory of aging.

Naked mole-rats, which live underground in the wild, exhibit high levels of oxidative stress even at a young age, yet do not show many signs of age-related decline until very late in life.

"The composition of proteasomes and the presence of immunoproteasomes in the liver are key pieces of the jigsaw puzzle evaluating how naked mole-rats preserve health span well into their third decade of life," Dr. Buffenstein said.

Co-authors also included Barshop Institute members Maria Gaczynska, Ph.D., associate professor of molecular medicine in the School of Medicine, and Pawel Osmulski, Ph.D., assistant professor of molecular medicine.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Karl A. Rodriguez, Yael H. Edrey, Pawel Osmulski, Maria Gaczynska, Rochelle Buffenstein. Altered Composition of Liver Proteasome Assemblies Contributes to Enhanced Proteasome Activity in the Exceptionally Long-Lived Naked Mole-Rat. PLoS ONE, 2012; 7 (5): e35890 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0035890

Cite This Page:

University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. "Scientists find differences in naked mole rat's protein disposers." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 May 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120511175008.htm>.
University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. (2012, May 11). Scientists find differences in naked mole rat's protein disposers. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120511175008.htm
University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. "Scientists find differences in naked mole rat's protein disposers." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120511175008.htm (accessed July 22, 2014).

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