Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Naked mole rat's secret to staying cancer free

Date:
July 31, 2013
Source:
University of Haifa
Summary:
Scientists have discovered the naked mole rat's unique mechanism to staying cancer free -- a super sugar called high-molecular-mass Hyaluronan (HMM-HA). When secreted by the naked mole rat's cells, this molecule prevents cells from overcrowding and forming tumors. Researchers now say using naked mole-rat HMM-HA in the clinic could open up new avenues for cancer prevention and life extension in humans.

Naked mole rat (Heterocephalus glaber).
Credit: belizar / Fotolia

Mice and rats have long since been a standard animal model for cancer research, mainly due to their short lifespan of four years on average and high incidence of cancer. Naked mole rats however, are a mystery among mammals. This social tiny African subterranean rodent has a maximum lifespan exceeding 30 years and most surprisingly, is cancer-resistant. The fact that so far, not a single incident of cancer has been detected makes the naked mole rat a fitting model for finding novel ways to fight cancer.

Recently, a team of researchers from the University of Rochester in New York and the University of Haifa found the naked mole rat's unique mechanism to staying cancer free- a super sugar called high-molecular-mass Hyaluronan (HMM-HA). They discovered that when secreted from the naked mole rat's cells, HMM-HA prevents cells from overcrowding and forming tumors. "Contact inhibition, a powerful anticancer mechanism, discovered by the Rochester team, arresting cell growth when cells come into contact with each other, is lost in cancer cells," explains Prof. Eviatar Nevo, from the Institute of Evolution at the University of Haifa, "The experiments showed that when HMM-HA was removed from naked mole rat cells, they became susceptible to tumors and lost their contact inhibition."

HMM-HA is a form of Hyaluronan- a long sugar polymer, naturally present as a lubricant in the extracellular matrix of the human body. It is commonly used in the treatment of arthritis or in anti-wrinkle skin care products. According to the current results, the naked mole rat cells secrete extremely high-molecular mass HA, which is over five times larger than human or mouse HA. This high-molecular-mass HA accumulates abundantly in naked mole rat tissues, owing to a more robust synthesis by a protein called HAS2 and a decreased activity of HA-degrading enzymes. When researchers compared the Has2 gene between the naked mole rat and other mammals, they discovered that two unique amino acids, (asparagines), that are 100% conserved among mammals, were replaced by two other amino acids (serines), in the naked mole rat. These unique amino acid changes may be responsible for the high processivity of the naked mole rat HAS2 protein- in charge of HA synthesis. The naked mole rat cells display a two-fold higher affinity to HA than mouse or human cells, contributing to the higher sensitivity of naked mole rat cells to HA signaling. Remarkably, explains Professor Nevo, "the cells of the Israeli solitary blind mole rat, Spalax, which is phylogenetically closer to mice and rats than to naked mole rats, also secreted HMM-HA. This highlights a parallel evolution in unrelated subterranean mammals, presumably a shared adaptation to life underground."

The researchers speculate that naked mole rats evolved higher concentrations of HA in the skin to provide the skin elasticity needed for life in underground tunnels. So far, experiments in human cells have been very limited. However, there has been some evidence showing there is reason for hope. In one of their experiments, the researchers noticed that when naked mole rat HAS2 synthesis protein was overexpressed in human cell tissues, the cells began secreting HMM-HA. This opens new avenues for cancer prevention and life extension in human medicine.


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

University of Haifa. "Naked mole rat's secret to staying cancer free." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 July 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130731093255.htm>.
University of Haifa. (2013, July 31). Naked mole rat's secret to staying cancer free. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130731093255.htm
University of Haifa. "Naked mole rat's secret to staying cancer free." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130731093255.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Newsy (July 28, 2014) The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs struck at the worst time for them. A new study says that if it hit earlier or later, they might've survived. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

AP (July 27, 2014) A live-streaming webcam catches loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings emerging from a nest in the Florida Keys. (July 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Newsy (July 27, 2014) The satellite is back under ground control after a tense few days, but with a gecko sex experiment on board, the media just couldn't help themselves. 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