Friday, November 22, 2019

Microscopic Worm May Lead to Longer Healthier Lives For Humans

A transparent nematode found in soil may lead to healthier long lives for humans. This nematode called Caenorhabditis elegans nervous system controls the cuticle in response to bacterial infections. These nematodes have very simple structures, but share several genetic similarities more complex than mammals, including humans. This study challenges that a physical barrier does not respond to infections, but is a part of the body's innate defense against a pathogen.

During the study when the nematode had an infection it changed its cuticle structure. A defense response like that is controlled by the nervous system. Technologies such as gene silencing and CRISPR gene editing to show that a gene called npr-8 regulates collagen is tied to a G-protein-coupled receptor. These proteins are the key structural components of the nematode's cuticle. The nematodes with a removed NPR-8 receptor survived longer when exposed to pathogens than the nematodes with their NPR-8 receptor. Healthy cuticles are key to having a defense against external insults. Most pathogens produce wicked proteins that attempt to destroy the barrier and establish infection, but the results show that the nervous system remodel or strengthen the protective structure when these attacks are detected.

Declining collagen are associated with aging. This study shows that the neural regulation of collagen might play a role in overall longevity due to its important role in defense against pathogen infection.


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