Science and Tech

Tardigrades use a trick to repair radiation damage

File - Milnesium tardigradum in active state.

File - Milnesium tardigradum in active state.

File – Milnesium tardigradum in active state. – SCHOKRAIE E ET AL. – Archive

April 16 () –

UNC-Chapel Hill researchers have discovered that tardigrades -microscopic animals famous for surviving extreme conditions- They have an unusual response to radiation.

Led by Bob Goldstein's lab, the new research paper published in Current Biology reveals new details about tardigrades' responses to radiation. Radiation has long been known to damage DNA, and in humans, DNA damage from excessive radiation exposure can lead to disease. But tardigrades have an unexpected way to correct the damage.

What we saw surprised us“Goldstein said.”“Tardigrades are doing something we didn't expect.” His lab has developed laboratory methods for studying tardigrades for the past 25 years. He has identified several tricks that tardigrades have to survive in conditions that would endanger the lives of humans and most animals.

Sixty years ago, researchers discovered that tardigrades could survive radiation about 1,000 times more intense than what humans are known to survive. Courtney Clark-Hachtel, a former postdoctoral fellow in the lab, joined the group to examine how tardigrades can survive intense radiation. She discovered that one species of tardigrade is not immune to DNA damage (irradiation damages their DNA), but tardigrades can repair significant damage.

Clark-Hachtel and Goldstein were surprised to discover that tardigrades can increase the volume of production of DNA repair genes. Unlike humans, tardigrades can increase the level of DNA repair gene products to such an extent that They become some of the most abundant genetic products in animals.

“These animals are developing an incredible response to radiation, and that seems to be a secret to their extreme survival capabilities,” Clark-Hachtel said. “What we are learning about how tardigrades overcome radiation stress may lead to new ideas about how we might try to protect other animals and microorganisms from harmful radiation.”

While UNC-Chapel Hill scientists completed the work, researchers in France found similar results in independent experiments. Paris Museum of Natural History researchers Jean-Paul Concordet and Anne de Cian and their coworkers also found a new tardigrade protein that could protect DNA. Their results are published in the journal eLife.

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