Tag Archives: mitochondria

New Study Outlines ‘Water World’ Theory of Life’s Origins

Life took root more than four billion years ago on our nascent Earth, a wetter and harsher place than now, bathed in sizzling ultraviolet rays. What started out as simple cells ultimately transformed into slime molds, frogs, elephants, humans and the rest of our planet’s living kingdoms. How did it all begin?

A new study from researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., and the Icy Worlds team at NASA’s Astrobiology Institute, based at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., describes how electrical energy naturally produced at the sea floor might have given rise to life. While the scientists had already proposed this hypothesis — called “submarine alkaline hydrothermal emergence of life” — the new report assembles decades of field, laboratory and theoretical research into a grand, unified picture. (more…)

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Boosting ‘cellular garbage disposal’ can delay the aging process, UCLA biologists report

UCLA life scientists have identified a gene previously implicated in Parkinson’s disease that can delay the onset of aging and extend the healthy life span of fruit flies. The research, they say, could have important implications for aging and disease in humans.

The gene, called parkin, serves at least two vital functions: It marks damaged proteins so that cells can discard them before they become toxic, and it is believed to play a key role in the removal of damaged mitochondria from cells. (more…)

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Study of the machinery of cells reveals clues to neurological disorder

Investigation by researchers from the University of Exeter and ETH Zurich has shed new light on a protein which is linked to a common neurological disorder called Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease.

The team has discovered that a protein previously identified on mitochondria – the energy factories of the cell – is also found on the fat-metabolising organelles peroxisomes, suggesting a closer link between the two organelles. (more…)

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Couch Potatoes May Be Genetically Predisposed to Being Lazy, MU Study Finds

Genetics could be a reason some people are motivated to exercise more than others

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Studies show 97 percent of American adults get less than 30 minutes of exercise a day, which is the minimum recommended amount based on federal guidelines. New research from the University of Missouri suggests certain genetic traits may predispose people to being more or less motivated to exercise and remain active. Frank Booth, a professor in the MU College of Veterinary Medicine, along with his post-doctoral fellow Michael Roberts, were able to selectively breed rats that exhibited traits of either extreme activity or extreme laziness. They say these rats indicate that genetics could play a role in exercise motivation, even in humans.

“We have shown that it is possible to be genetically predisposed to being lazy,” Booth said. “This could be an important step in identifying additional causes for obesity in humans, especially considering dramatic increases in childhood obesity in the United States. It would be very useful to know if a person is genetically predisposed to having a lack of motivation to exercise, because that could potentially make them more likely to grow obese.” (more…)

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Method makes it easier to separate useful stem cells from ‘problem’ ones for therapies

UCLA study IDs small molecule that destroys potentially dangerous cells

Pluripotent stem cells can turn, or differentiate, into any cell type in the body, such as nerve, muscle or bone, but inevitably some of these stem cells fail to differentiate and end up mixed in with their newly differentiated daughter cells.  

Because these remaining pluripotent stem cells can subsequently develop into unintended cell types — bone cells among blood, for instance — or form tumors known as teratomas, identifying and separating them from their differentiated progeny is of utmost importance in keeping stem cell–based therapeutics safe.  (more…)

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Berkeley Lab Scientists Help Develop Promising Therapy for Huntington’s Disease

Initial results in mice could lead to new way to fight neurodegenerative diseases

There’s new hope in the fight against Huntington’s disease. A group of researchers that includes scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have designed a compound that suppresses symptoms of the devastating disease in mice.

The compound is a synthetic antioxidant that targets mitochondria, an organelle within cells that serves as a cell’s power plant. Oxidative damage to mitochondria is implicated in many neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s. (more…)

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UCLA Study Looks at Why Heart Attacks Cause so Much More Damage in Late Pregnancy

Heart attacks during pregnancy are uncommon, but the prevalence of heart disease in pregnant mothers has increased over the past decade as more women delay pregnancy until they are older. These women, who are generally less physically active than their younger peers, tend to have higher cholesterol levels and are at greater risk of heart disease and diabetes.

While research has shown that the heart typically functions better during pregnancy due to a rise in cardiac pumping capacity to meet increased demands, a new UCLA study in rats and mice demonstrates that heart attacks occurring in the last trimester or late months of pregnancy result in worse heart function and more damaged heart tissue than heart attacks among non-pregnant females.

The research is published in the July edition of the peer-reviewed journal Basic Research in Cardiology. (more…)

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Amoeba May Offer Key Clue to Photosynthetic Evolution

Stanford, CA— The major difference between plant and animal cells is the photosynthetic process, which converts light energy into chemical energy. When light isn’t available, energy is generated by breaking down carbohydrates and sugars, just as it is in animal and some bacterial cells. Two cellular organelles are responsible for these two processes: the chloroplasts for photosynthesis and the mitochondria for sugar breakdown. New research from Carnegie’s Eva Nowack and Arthur Grossman has opened a window into the early stages of chloroplast evolution. Their work is published online by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in the week of February 27-March 2. (more…)

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