Researchers at The University of Queensland have found an anti-aging function in a protein deep inside human cells.
Discovered by Associate Professor Steven Zuryn and Dr. Michael Dai of the Queensland Brain Institute that a protein called ATSF-1 controls the fine balance between generating new mitochondria and repairing damaged mitochondria. The research was published in Nature Cell Biology.
Mitochondria, which contain their own DNA, produce energy within cells to drive biological functions but the toxic products of this process contribute to the rate of cell aging.
“In conditions of stress, when mitochondrial DNA is damaged, the ATSF-1 protein prioritizes repair that promotes cellular health and longevity,” said Dr. Zuryn.
As an analogy, Dr. Zuryn is the relationship of a race car that needs a pitstop. “ATSF-1 makes the call that a pitstop is necessary for the cell when the mitochondria need repair,” he said.
“We studied ATFS-1 in C. elegans, or round worms and found that improving its function promotes cellular health, which means the worms become more active for a longer period of time. They don’t live as long , but they are healthier as they get older.”
“Mitochondrial dysfunction is at the core of many human diseases, including common age-related diseases such as dementias and Parkinson’s.
“Our finding may have exciting implications for healthy aging and for people with inherited mitochondrial diseases.”
Understanding how cells promote repair is an important step in identifying possible interventions to prevent mitochondrial damage.
“Our goal is to prolong tissue and organ functions that normally decline during aging by understanding how the damage to mitochondria contributes to this process,” said Dr. No.
“We can finally design interventions that keep mitochondrial DNA healthier for longer, improving our quality of life.”
Chuan-Yang Dai et al, ATFS-1 counteracts mitochondrial DNA damage by promoting transcriptional repair, Nature Cell Biology (2023). DOI: 10.1038/s41556-023-01192-y
Provided by the University of Queensland
Citation: Cell protein discovery points to healthier aging (2023, July 18) retrieved 19 July 2023 from https://phys.org/news/2023-07-cell-protein-discovery-healthier-aging.html
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