Tardigrade protein helps human DNA withstand radiation

Discussion in 'Biology & Genetics' started by Plazma Inferno!, Sep 21, 2016.

  1. Plazma Inferno! Ding Ding Ding Ding Administrator

    Tardigrades, or water bears, are pudgy, microscopic animals that look like a cross between a caterpillar and a naked mole rat. These aquatic invertebrates are consummate survivors, capable of withstanding a host of extremes, including near total dehydration and the insults of space.
    Now, a new study pinpoints the source of yet another tardigrade superpower: a protective protein that provides resistance to damaging X-rays. And researchers were able to transfer that resistance to human cells.
    Apparently, the tolerance against X-ray is thought to be a side-product of the animal's adaption to severe dehydration, which can wreak havoc on the molecules in living things. It can even tear apart DNA, much like X-rays can.
    In order to find out how tardigrades protected themselves against such harsh conditions the scientists began by sequencing the genome of Ramazzottius varieornatus, a species that is particularly stress tolerant. Becaue it's easier to study processes within the tardigrade's cells when the animal's genome is inserted into mammalian cells, researchers manipulated cultures of human cells to produce pieces of the water bear's inner machinery to determine which parts were actually giving the animals their resistance.
    Eventually, researchers discovered that a protein known as Dsup prevented the animal's DNA from breaking under the stress of radiation and desiccation. And they also found that the tardigrade-tinged human cells were able to suppress X-ray induced damage by about 40%.


    Paper: http://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms12808

Share This Page