US scientists discovered that the Dsup protein found only in water bears protects their cells from external damage like radiation.
A team from the University of California, San Diego, discovered the mechanism of action of the protein found in water bears, or tardigrade, which helps protect them in extreme conditions, according to results published in eLife.
Water bears are said to be the toughest living things on the planet.(Photo: Newsweek).
In the latest study, UC San Diego scientists want to understand some of the biological mechanisms behind water bears' exceptional ability to survive. Previously, other researchers identified a protein unique to water bears called Dsup (protein that limits damage) that helps the animal fight off dangerous X-rays. However, they do not know exactly how the Dsup protein protects them from radiation.
To answer the question, the UC San Diego team used biochemical analysis and found that Dsup binds to chromatin, a substance containing DNA and and proteins in chromosomes inside the cell. The bond creates a "protective cloud" that shields the cell from the destructive effects of strong molecules such as hydroxyl radicals generated when exposed to X-rays.
The discovery not only enhances the understanding of the biology of water bears but also helps scientists develop animal cells that survive longer under extreme conditions."In theory, we could design an optimized version of Dsup to protect DNA in many different cell types," said James Kadonaga, a professor of biology at UC San Diego, who co-authored the study. said.
About 0.1 - 1mm long, tiny water bears live in nearly every water environment around the world, including the deep sea and the Arctic. With sustained vitality, they are considered to thrive in extreme conditions. They survive even when exposed to extreme radiation or record low temperatures.