Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Marine animals could hold key to looking young: Sea cucumbers, sea urchins can change elasticity of collagen

Date:
October 1, 2012
Source:
Queen Mary, University of London
Summary:
Sea cucumbers and sea urchins are able to change the elasticity of collagen within their bodies, and could hold the key to maintaining a youthful appearance, according to scientists. The researchers investigated the genes of marine creatures such as sea urchins and sea cucumbers, known as echinoderms. They found the genes for "messenger molecules" known as peptides, which are released by cells and tell other cells in their bodies what to do.

Sea urchin.
Credit: Joze Maucec / Fotolia

Sea cucumbers and sea urchins are able to change the elasticity of collagen within their bodies, and could hold the key to maintaining a youthful appearance, according to scientists at Queen Mary, University of London.

The researchers investigated the genes of marine creatures such as sea urchins and sea cucumbers, known as echinoderms. They found the genes for "messenger molecules" known as peptides, which are released by cells and tell other cells in their bodies what to do.

The study was published online in the journals PLOS ONE and General and Comparative Endocrinology.

Project leader Professor Maurice Elphick, from Queen Mary's School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, said: "Probably the most exciting discovery from our research was finding genes encoding peptides that cause rapid stiffening or softening of collagen in the body wall of sea cucumbers.

"Although sea urchins and sea cucumbers may not look much like us, we are actually quite closely related to them. As we get older, changes in collagen cause wrinkling of our skin, so if we can find out how peptides cause the body wall of a sea cucumber to quickly become stiff or soft then our research might lead to new ways to keeping skin looking young and healthy."

The scientists analysed the DNA sequences of thousands of genes in the purple sea urchin Strongylocentrotus purpuratus and the edible sea cucumber Apostichopus japonicus and specifically searched for genes encoding peptide messenger molecules. Rapid advances in technology used to sequence genes made the research possible.

"When the human genome was sequenced over a decade ago it cost millions of pounds -- now all of the genes in an animal can be sequenced for just a few thousand pounds," Professor Elphick said.

"We also found that sea urchins have a peptide that is very similar to calcitonin, a hormone that regulates our bones to make sure that they remain strong," Professor Elphick said.

"So it will be fascinating to find out if calcitonin-type peptides have a similar sort of role in spiny-skinned creatures like sea urchins."

"These types of advances in basic science are fascinating in their own right but they are also important because they underpin the medical breakthroughs that lead to improvement in the quality of people's lives."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Queen Mary, University of London. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal References:

  1. Maurice R. Elphick. The Protein Precursors of Peptides That Affect the Mechanics of Connective Tissue and/or Muscle in the Echinoderm Apostichopus japonicus. PLoS ONE, 2012; 7 (8): e44492 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0044492
  2. Matthew L. Rowe, Maurice R. Elphick. The neuropeptide transcriptome of a model echinoderm, the sea urchin Strongylocentrotus purpuratus. General and Comparative Endocrinology, 2012; DOI: 10.1016/j.ygcen.2012.09.009

Cite This Page:

Queen Mary, University of London. "Marine animals could hold key to looking young: Sea cucumbers, sea urchins can change elasticity of collagen." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 October 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121001132150.htm>.
Queen Mary, University of London. (2012, October 1). Marine animals could hold key to looking young: Sea cucumbers, sea urchins can change elasticity of collagen. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121001132150.htm
Queen Mary, University of London. "Marine animals could hold key to looking young: Sea cucumbers, sea urchins can change elasticity of collagen." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121001132150.htm (accessed April 21, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, April 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Mich. Boy Unearths 10,000-Year-Old Mastodon Tooth

Mich. Boy Unearths 10,000-Year-Old Mastodon Tooth

Newsy (Apr. 20, 2014) A 9-year-old Michigan boy was exploring a creek when he came across a 10,000-year-old tooth from a prehistoric mastodon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

AP (Apr. 18, 2014) Dairy farmers and ethnic groups in Vermont are both benefiting from a unique collaborative effort that's feeding a growing need for fresh and affordable goat meat. (April 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) Andy Dixon showed the Daily Mail a screenshot of what he believes to be the mythical beast swimming just below the lake's surface. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) Not only are these newly discovered bugs' sex organs reversed, but they also mate for up to 70 hours. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins