Scientists have long puzzled how conditions that are deadly for most other organisms are not so terrible for tardigrades, which are small invertebrates. For example, they can survive for many years without water. Researchers from Marshall University in West Virginia (USA) claim to have just found the answer to this question.
Tardigrades, microscopic invertebrates with eight legs, are known for their resistance to extreme conditions. In a dormant (survival) state, they can survive at temperatures close to absolute zero to over 150 degrees Celsius, they can withstand ionizing radiation 1,000 times stronger than any other animal, and pressure of 6,000 atmospheres, and they are able to survive Surviving for over 100 years. Without water, even in space.
Scientists from Marshall University in West Virginia (USA) claim that thanks to the experiments they conducted, they were able to solve the mystery of why the water bear is able to survive in extremely unfavorable conditions.
Cysteine as a pressure sensor
Derek Collinge's team and colleagues exposed tardigrades to high levels of hydrogen peroxide, sugar, salt and a temperature of -80 degrees Celsius, and as a result of these extreme experiments, highly reactive harmful molecules – free oxygen radicals – appeared in the animals. Corpses.
As it turns out, free radicals interact with other molecules and, in particular, oxidize an amino acid called cysteine - one of the building blocks of proteins in the body. This leads to a change in the structure and function of the proteins, signaling the beginning of the inactive state.
In experiments in which cysteine oxidation was prevented, tardigrades were unable to enter a state of hibernation. According to the study authors, this means that cysteine acts as a kind of regulatory sensor that allows tardigrades to respond to stress. When conditions improve, cysteine is no longer oxidized and the tardigrades emerge from dormancy.
According to the authors, further research into tardigrades' defense mechanisms may advance research on the aging process and even facilitate long-term space travel. The study was published on January 17 in the journal PLOS ONE.
Main image source: Stock struggle
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