Wrinkles on the skin of a microscopic worm could be the key to a longer and healthier life for humans.
In collaboration with Caenorhabditis elegans a transparent nematode found in the soil, researchers at Elson S. Floyd College of Washington Washington University first discovered that the nervous system controls the skin of tiny worms, the skin ̵1; as external a barrier in response to bacterial infections. Their study was published today in (19459014) Science Advances (19459015). Often used in biological research as a model organism C. nematoda elegans has a relatively simple structure while still sharing several genetic similarities with more complex mammals, including humans, so that this discovery also has implications for human health.
"Our study challenges the traditional notion that a physical barrier, such as worm skin or human skin, does not respond to infections but is part of the body's innate defense against a pathogen," said assistant professor Jingra Sun on paper. "We show that nematode can change its cuticle structure during infection and that the defense response is controlled by the nervous system."
Sun and colleagues have used technologies such as gene silencing and CRISPR gene modification to show that G-protein-coupled receptor bound to a gene called npr-8, it regulates collagens, proteins that are key structural components of nematode cuticles. Nematodes whose NPR-8 receptor has been removed survived longer when exposed to pathogens that cause pneumonia, salmonella, and staph infections. The nematode cuticle without receptor also remained smooth compared to their wild peers whose cuticle wrinkle responded to the same pathogens.
"In the case of nematodes, it is important to maintain a healthy cuticle that acts as the first line of defense against external insults," said Durai Sellegounder, lead author of the book and postdoctoral research at Sun's Lab. “Many pathogens produce bad proteins that try to destroy this barrier and create an infection. Our results show that the nervous system can detect and respond to these attacks by reshaping or strengthening this protective structure. ”
Collagens are the most abundant proteins in mammals. and decreasing collagen levels are associated with aging. Loss of collagen can cause more problems in humans than unsightly wrinkles. While nematodes have only one "extracellular matrix", the skin, humans have an extracellular matrix on each organ and can be harmful if the matrix is too stiff or too loose.
The results of the WSU study indicate that collagens play an important role. in defending pathogenic infections, and scientists assume that nerve regulation of collagens could play a role in overall longevity. Their next goal is to understand the basic mechanisms of defense response.
A protein involved in the stress response to nematodes has been identified
"Neuronal GPCR NPR-8 regulates defense of C. elegans against pathogen infection" Science Advances (2019). advances.sciencemag.org/content/5/11/eaaw4717
Genetic discovery has implications for better immunity, longer lifespan (2019, November 20)
renewed on November 20, 2019
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