AUG 01, 2021 4:59 AM PDT

Revealing a Major Regulator of Aging

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

Ubiquitin is a crucial, small protein that is thought to be present in all eukaryotic cells and is very similar from one organism to another; the yeast and human versions of ubiquitin differ by only three amino acids. Ubiquitin plays a major role in regulating proteins; when ubiquitin is attached to a protein, it's said to be ubiquitinated, and is tagged for destruction. Damaged proteins build up during aging, and ubiquitin is known to influence the aging process because of its role in cellular quality control.

Image credit: Public domain pictures

Researchers can analyze all of the proteins the are ubiquitinated in a cell, and create a ubiquitin signature for cells, or in the case of a new study reported in Nature, the model organism Caenorhabditis elegans, a nematode worm. This approach can compare the total number of proteins in a cell with how many are ubiquitinated, and how protein turnover changes during aging. The research revealed that there was an overall loss of ubiquitination during aging.

"Our study of ubiquitin changes led us to a number of exciting conclusions with important insights for understanding the aging process," said lead study author Dr. Seda Koyuncu of the CECAD Cluster of Excellence for Aging Research at the University of Cologne. "We discovered that aging leads to changes in the ubiquitination of thousands of proteins in the cell." Koyuncu added that those changes could be prevented by a reduction in both food consumption and insulin signaling.

The proteasome is a complex that destroys ubiquitinated proteins. As aging progressed in their research model, the ubiquitination process became unreliable; some proteins were not tagged with ubiquitin as often, and these defective proteins built up and caused cell death.

"Remarkably, we saw that reducing the protein levels of these untagged proteins was sufficient to prolong longevity, while preventing their degradation by the proteasome shortened lifespan," said Koyuncu.

"Our findings may point to new ways to delay the aging process and improve quality of life in old age. In particular, we have established a novel link between aging and general changes in the ubiquitin-modified proteome, a process that actively influences longevity," said study coordinator David Vilchez, a research group leader at CECAD and the Center for Molecular Medicine Cologne (CMMC).

Sources: Phys.org via University of Cologne, Nature

About the Author
  • Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on over 30 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 70 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
You May Also Like
AUG 08, 2021
Microbiology
Manganese Could be an Achilles' Heel for Some Pneumonia Germs
AUG 08, 2021
Manganese Could be an Achilles' Heel for Some Pneumonia Germs
Researchers recently discovered bacteria that fed on the element manganese. Scientists also know that some bacterial pat ...
AUG 13, 2021
Drug Discovery & Development
Breast Cancer Drug Reverses Deadly Blood Cancer in Mice
AUG 13, 2021
Breast Cancer Drug Reverses Deadly Blood Cancer in Mice
A drug currently used to treat advanced breast cancers may treat a rare type of leukemia known as myelofibrosis. The stu ...
SEP 11, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
New NIH Consortium Aims to Understand the Impact of Genetic Variants
SEP 11, 2021
New NIH Consortium Aims to Understand the Impact of Genetic Variants
Scientists sequenced most of the human genome abut two decades ago. It took many years to complete the project because o ...
SEP 14, 2021
Microbiology
Learn How Good Bugs Can Benefit Us at International Microorganism Day
SEP 14, 2021
Learn How Good Bugs Can Benefit Us at International Microorganism Day
Microorganisms live everywhere, and we've learned over the past year that they can affect everything.
SEP 15, 2021
Cell & Molecular Biology
The Molecular 'Anchors' That Hold Cells in Place
SEP 15, 2021
The Molecular 'Anchors' That Hold Cells in Place
Cells in the body are held in place with a kind of molecular anchor, called focal adhesions, where cells are linked to c ...
SEP 26, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
A Better Gene Therapy Delivery System for Treating Muscle Diseases
SEP 26, 2021
A Better Gene Therapy Delivery System for Treating Muscle Diseases
Muscle diseases that have a genetic basis can cause muscles to waste away, and may lead to a premature death. There aren ...
Loading Comments...