SAN ANTONIO (Aug. 29, 2014) — Scientists at the Barshop Institute
for Longevity and Aging Studies, part of the School of Medicine at
the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, have found another
secret of longevity in the tissues of the longest-lived rodent, the
naked mole rat.
They reported that a factor in the cells of naked mole rats
protects and alters the activity of the proteasome, a garbage
disposer for damaged and obsolete proteins.
The factor also protects proteasome function in human, mouse and
yeast cells when challenged with various proteasome poisons,
studies showed. These proteasomes usually rapidly stop functioning,
leading to the accumulation of damaged proteins that further impair
cell function, contributing to the vicious cycle that leads to cell
“I think this factor is part of an overall process or mechanism by
which naked mole rats maintain their protein quality,” study first
author Karl Rodriguez, Ph.D., said.
Generally, as an organism ages, not only are there more damaged
proteins in need of disposal, but the proteasome itself becomes
damaged and less efficient in clearing out the damaged proteins.
As a result, protein quality declines and this contributes to the
functional declines seen during aging. Enhancement of protein
quality, meanwhile, leads to longer life in yeast, worms, fruit
flies and naked mole rats, Dr. Rodriguez said.
Dr. Rodriguez, a San Antonio native who completed both his master’s
and doctoral degrees at the Health Science Center, is a
postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Rochelle Buffenstein,
Ph.D., professor of physiology at the Barshop Institute. For this
study, the Buffenstein lab also collaborated with Pawel Osmulski,
Ph.D., assistant professor of molecular medicine; Susan Weintraub,
Ph.D., professor of biochemistry; and Maria Gaczynska, Ph.D.,
associate professor of molecular medicine.
Naked mole rats, which burrow through underground tunnels in their
native East Africa, are nearly hairless rodents. They live as long
as 32 years. Naked mole rats maintain cancer-free good health and
reproductive potential well into their third decade of life.
This finding is in the journal BBA: Molecular Basis of Disease.
Biochim Biophys Acta 2014 Jul 10. Epub 2014 Jul 10.
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