The inhabitant of sea depths told the researchers about the secrets of immortality
The tiny freshwater polyp Hydra long been of great interest to scientists. In many respects it is connected with the fact that this animal is actually immortal and shows no signs of aging.
From a biological point of view, an unusual phenomenon is explained by the fact that Hydra reproduce by budding and possess impressive abilities to regenerate all areas of the body due to the presence of a large number of stem cells. With age, the number of “miraculous” cells is not reduced, and they continue to renew the tissues of the body.
German researchers from the University named after Christian Albrecht (Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel) decided to find out what are the genetic basis of immortality of Hydra, and was surprised to find that the secret lies in the gene FoxO.
It is well known to geneticists, as there is in all animals and humans. Biologists have also proven that it is associated with aging. However, its role still remained unclear.
German scientists have created three modified versions of the polyp. One of them had a normal FoxO, to another was added one copy of this gene, and the third he was off.
As reported in the journal PNAS, the Hydra with an inactive gene not only significantly decreased the number of stem cells, but also radically changed the immune system. Similar changes are usually associated with aging, organizma seen in adults. From polyps with an extra copy of the gene, stem cells, on the contrary, began to share even more actively.
Based on these data, the researchers concluded that the gene FoxO maintains stem cells in an active state. Due to this, there is a constant renewal of tissues. Most likely, the same processes occur in the human body. Previous studies have already shown that the longevity of this gene remains active even after a centenary.
Anyway, check out these guesses will be quite difficult, because genetic manipulations and the experiments on humans are prohibited. However, the Germans expect at least to identify the factors that affect the gene FoxO, such as the environment, diet or lifestyle.