Naked mole rats are a unique rodent that have lifespans of over 30 years, more than 10 fold the lifespan of typical rodents.
Recently the genome of the naked mole rat has been sequenced, and researchers continue to work extensively with the animal to discover reasons for its profound longevity.
Indeed any learnings gleaned from this animal could lead to advances in human longevity.
New research is a breakthrough of sorts, it reveals an important ingredient for why the animal live so long.
Proteosomes are cellular organelles or machines that function to break down and recycle damaged proteins within cells. As cells live proteins are created and then damaged through oxidative stress. Damaged proteins for one thing cause cells to dysfunction. They also may aggregate into clumps which can damage or kill the cell. Protein damage is a major underlying cause of aging.
It is important for cells to detect and destroy damaged proteins. They do so through the ubiquitin proteasome system which tags defective proteins with ubiquitin molecules and then degrades them in the proteasomes.
In the current stud the researchers compared the activity and composition of the proteasomes of naked mode rats to those of regular mice.
They discovered the naked mole rats “had significantly higher chymotrypsin-like (ChT-L) activity and a two-fold increase in trypsin-like (T-L) in both whole lysates as well as cytosolic fractions.”
They also found “the 20S proteasome was more active in the longer-lived species and that 26S proteasome was both more active and more populous,” in the naked mole rats and “that both 19S subunits and immunoproteasome catalytic subunits are present in greater amounts in the naked mole-rat suggesting that the observed higher specific activity may be due to the greater proportion of immunoproteasomes in livers of healthy young adults.”
Taken together these findings prove “proteasomes in this species are primed for the efficient removal of stress-damaged proteins.”
“Further characterization of the naked mole-rat proteasome and its regulation could lead to important insights on how the cells in these animals handle increased stress and protein damage to maintain a longer health in their tissues and ultimately a longer life,” they conclude.