Forum für Wissenschaft, Industrie und Wirtschaft

Hauptsponsoren:     3M 
Datenbankrecherche:

 

“Selfish” DNA in Animal Mitochondria Offers Possible Tool to Study Aging

13.08.2012
Researchers at Oregon State University have discovered, for the first time in any animal species, a type of “selfish” mitochondrial DNA that is actually hurting the organism and lessening its chance to survive – and bears a strong similarity to some damage done to human cells as they age.

The findings, just published in the journal PLoS One, are a biological oddity previously unknown in animals. But they may also provide an important new tool to study human aging, scientists said. The work was supported by the National Institutes of Health.


Courtesy of Oregon State University

For the first time researchers have found "selfish DNA" in the mitochondria of an animal, this roundworm, Caenorhabditis briggsae .

Such selfish mitochondrial DNA has been found before in plants, but not animals. In this case, the discovery was made almost by accident during some genetic research being done on a nematode, Caenorhabditis briggsae – a type of small roundworm.

“We weren’t even looking for this when we found it, at first we thought it must be a laboratory error,” said Dee Denver, an OSU associate professor of zoology. “Selfish DNA is not supposed to be found in animals. But it could turn out to be fairly important as a new genetic model to study the type of mitochondrial decay that is associated with human aging.”

DNA is the material that holds the basic genetic code for living organisms, and through complex biological processes guides beneficial cellular functions. Some of it is also found in the mitochondria, or energy-producing “powerhouse” of cells, which at one point in evolution was separate from the other DNA.

The mitochondria generally act for the benefit of the cell, even though it is somewhat separate. But the “selfish” DNA found in some plant mitochondria – and now in animals – has major differences. It tends to copy itself faster than other DNA, has no function useful to the cell, and in some cases actually harms the cell. In plants, for instance, it can affect flowering and sometimes cause sterility.

“We had seen this DNA before in this nematode and knew it was harmful, but didn’t realize it was selfish,” said Katie Clark, an OSU postdoctoral fellow. “Worms with it had less offspring than those without, they had less muscle activity. It might suggest that natural selection doesn’t work very well in this species.”

That’s part of the general quandary of selfish DNA in general, the scientists said. If it doesn’t help the organism survive and reproduce, why hasn’t it disappeared as a result of evolutionary pressure? Its persistence, they say, is an example of how natural selection doesn’t always work, either at the organism or cellular level. Biological progress is not perfect.

In this case, the population sizes of the nematode may be too small to eliminate the selfish DNA, researchers said.

What’s also interesting, they say, is that the defects this selfish DNA cause in this roundworm are surprisingly similar to the decayed mitochondrial DNA that accumulates as one aspect of human aging. More of the selfish DNA is also found in the worms as they age.

Further study of these biological differences may help shed light on what can cause the mitochondrial dysfunction, Denver said, and give researchers a new tool with which to study the aging process.

Dee Denver | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.oregonstate.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Toward a 'smart' patch that automatically delivers insulin when needed
18.01.2017 | American Chemical Society

nachricht 127 at one blow...
18.01.2017 | Stiftung Zoologisches Forschungsmuseum Alexander Koenig, Leibniz-Institut für Biodiversität der Tiere

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Textiler Hochwasserschutz erhöht Sicherheit

Wissenschaftler der TU Chemnitz präsentieren im Februar und März 2017 ein neues temporäres System zum Schutz gegen Hochwasser auf Baumessen in Chemnitz und Dresden

Auch die jüngsten Hochwasserereignisse zeigen, dass vielerorts das natürliche Rückhaltepotential von Uferbereichen schnell erschöpft ist und angrenzende...

Im Focus: Wie Darmbakterien krank machen

HZI-Forscher entschlüsseln Infektionsmechanismen von Yersinien und Immunantworten des Wirts

Yersinien verursachen schwere Darminfektionen. Um ihre Infektionsmechanismen besser zu verstehen, werden Studien mit dem Modellorganismus Yersinia...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Erforschung von Elementarteilchen in Materialien

Laseranregung von Semimetallen ermöglicht die Erzeugung neuartiger Quasiteilchen in Festkörpersystemen sowie ultraschnelle Schaltung zwischen verschiedenen Zuständen.

Die Untersuchung der Eigenschaften fundamentaler Teilchen in Festkörpersystemen ist ein vielversprechender Ansatz für die Quantenfeldtheorie. Quasiteilchen...

Alle Focus-News des Innovations-reports >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

IHR
JOB & KARRIERE
SERVICE
im innovations-report
in Kooperation mit academics
Veranstaltungen

Künftige Rohstoffexperten aus aller Welt in Freiberg zur Winterschule

18.01.2017 | Veranstaltungen

Bundesweiter Astronomietag am 25. März 2017

17.01.2017 | Veranstaltungen

Über intelligente IT-Systeme und große Datenberge

17.01.2017 | Veranstaltungen

 
VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
Weitere VideoLinks >>>
Aktuelle Beiträge

Der erste Blick auf ein einzelnes Protein

18.01.2017 | Biowissenschaften Chemie

Das menschliche Hirn wächst länger und funktionsspezifischer als gedacht

18.01.2017 | Biowissenschaften Chemie

Zur Sicherheit: Rettungsautos unterbrechen Radio

18.01.2017 | Verkehr Logistik