Protein identified that can lengthen our life?

February 27, 2012, Umea University

Cells use various methods to break down and recycle worn-out components—autophagy is one of them. In the dissertation she will be defending at Umea University in Sweden, Karin Håberg shows that the protein SNX18 is necessary for cells to be able to perform autophagy.

In animal experiments on both simple organisms like fruit flies and in more complex animals like mice, researchers have seen that stimulating leads to increased longevity. It is still unclear whether these results are directly translatable to humans. However, there are theories that calorie restriction, which is a relatively well-established way of increasing longevity, induces higher levels of autophagy, which would help delay aging.

Cells metabolize their old proteins and cell organelles by breaking them down in a process called autophagy. The term comes from Greek and means roughly to eat oneself. Autophagy is important in cleaning out defective components that otherwise can damage cells and cause diseases.

Molecules that are to be broken down are enclosed in a membrane sack that forms an organelle called an autophagosome. This then merges with a lysosome, a cell organelle containing many different enzymes that are specialized in breaking down biomolecules. The metabolic products can then be recycled by the cells to form new molecules.

Karin Håberg’s studies show that SNX18 binds to and can reshape cell membranes. Her studies of the role played by SNX18 in autophagy showed that when the cells’ production of SNX18 was stopped by RNA interference, the number of autophagosomes declined drastically, thereby inhibiting the autophagy process.

When the cells were manipulated instead to overproduce SNX18, the number of autophagosomes increased. Karin Håberg was also able to demonstrate that it is precisely the capacity to re-model membranes that is the key to SNX18’s function in the formation of autophagosomes. The studies of autophagy were conducted in collaboration with a research team at Oslo University led by Dr. Anne Simonsen.

Explore further: Shedding light on cell mechanism which plays a role in such diseases as Huntington's and Parkinson's

Related Stories

Shedding light on cell mechanism which plays a role in such diseases as Huntington's and Parkinson's

July 26, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- New research from scientists at the University of Cambridge provides critical insight into the formation of autophagosomes, which are responsible for cleaning up cellular waste.

Recommended for you

More surprises about blood development—and a possible lead for making lymphocytes

January 22, 2018
Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) have long been regarded as the granddaddy of all blood cells. After we are born, these multipotent cells give rise to all our cell lineages: lymphoid, myeloid and erythroid cells. Hematologists ...

How metal scaffolds enhance the bone healing process

January 22, 2018
A new study shows how mechanically optimized constructs known as titanium-mesh scaffolds can optimize bone regeneration. The induction of bone regeneration is of importance when treating large bone defects. As demonstrated ...

Researchers illustrate how muscle growth inhibitor is activated, could aid in treating ALS

January 19, 2018
Researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine are part of an international team that has identified how the inactive or latent form of GDF8, a signaling protein also known as myostatin responsible for ...

Bioengineered soft microfibers improve T-cell production

January 18, 2018
T cells play a key role in the body's immune response against pathogens. As a new class of therapeutic approaches, T cells are being harnessed to fight cancer, promising more precise, longer-lasting mitigation than traditional, ...

Weight flux alters molecular profile, study finds

January 17, 2018
The human body undergoes dramatic changes during even short periods of weight gain and loss, according to a study led by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Secrets of longevity protein revealed in new study

January 17, 2018
Named after the Greek goddess who spun the thread of life, Klotho proteins play an important role in the regulation of longevity and metabolism. In a recent Yale-led study, researchers revealed the three-dimensional structure ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.