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 02, 2021
Cell & Molecular Biology
Free Tool Uses AI to Predict Protein Structures
AUG 02, 2021
Free Tool Uses AI to Predict Protein Structures
To understand cellular processes, scientists have to study proteins, which play critical roles in virtually every aspect ...
AUG 08, 2021
Cell & Molecular Biology
How Stress Can Impact Gene Expression in the Brain
AUG 08, 2021
How Stress Can Impact Gene Expression in the Brain
University of Bristol researchers have learned more about how chronic stress may be linked to health problems, both phys ...
AUG 11, 2021
Cardiology
Vaping Seems to Rapidly Increase Oxidative Stress
AUG 11, 2021
Vaping Seems to Rapidly Increase Oxidative Stress
Even though we know now that vaping is harmful and addictive, it's still thought to be healthier than smoking cigarettes ...
SEP 02, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
Study ID's New Regulatory Regions in the Human Genome
SEP 02, 2021
Study ID's New Regulatory Regions in the Human Genome
There's so much more to the human genome than just instructions for making proteins, for example, many non-coding region ...
SEP 10, 2021
Cell & Molecular Biology
New Artificial Cells Can Ingest, Process & Expel Material
SEP 10, 2021
New Artificial Cells Can Ingest, Process & Expel Material
Better research models can help us solve some biological mysteries. In recent years, scientists have developed a variety ...
SEP 22, 2021
Cardiology
Towards a Gene Therapy for Heart Regeneration
SEP 22, 2021
Towards a Gene Therapy for Heart Regeneration
For years, researchers at the Texas Heart Institute have been investigating the natural biochemical processes related to ...
Loading Comments...