Mitochondrial Proteins Last Longer Than Others

When the mRNA was removed, these remained in the cell for a long time and were able to maintain their function, new study results show.

Many of the proteins in mitochondria last longer than expected and that the stability protects them from damage, results of a study by the Salk Institute and the University of California San Diego show.

“There is longstanding interest in the question of how certain cells in various tissues are maintained over the course of an entire life span,” Martin Hetzer, senior vice president and chief science officer at Stalk Institute, said in a statement. “One thing we would like to understand is how it’s possible that biological systems, which are made up of many dynamic constituents like proteins and biomolecules, can remain stable for a whole century in people who live that long.”

The study results showed that even when the mRNA was removed, the mitochondrial proteins remained in the cell for a long time and were able to maintain their function. However, when mRNA was removed for short-lived proteins, they depleted quickly.

The proteins are vital to the mitochondrial functions, specifically generating energy. Investigators found that they were stable and degraded over time.

Investigators used genetic approaches and advanced imaging to study how tissues are maintained and repaired over time. In the study, they looked at the mitochondria in mouse brain cells because the mitochondria have a stable structure to protect DNA.

They plan to continue to study long-lived proteins in the mitochondria to shed light on the role of the mitochondria in disease aging.

The findings were published in Developmental Cell.

Reference

Long-lived proteins in mitochondria of the brain stabilize protein complexes. EurekAlert. News release. October 28, 2021. Accessed November 1, 2021. https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/933019