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July 26, 2005

Study Finds Stressed-Out Worms Die Young

Topics: Medicine

Although stressed-out worms die young - it's not that un-stressed worms live longer, rather that worms that handle stress better live longer. By genetically engineering little transparent worms to carry a jellyfish gene called green fluorescent protein, which glows green under certain light, then tagging the gene to a gene called hsp-16.2(hsp = heat shock protein), a stress protein found in most organisms that is associated with the health of cells, they were able to observe which worms coped with stress better by observing how bright they glowed. The more active the hsp-16.2 gene was, the brighter the worms glowed green.

U.S. scientists reported today that how well you respond to stress predicts how long you will live - at least if you are a little worm. In their study, genetically identical worms responded to stress in greatly different ways -- and those with more active stress reactions lived much longer than worms with less active stress proteins, the researchers found. More active stress responses suggest the animal is coping with the stress. The scientists suggest that the findings will almost certainly carryover to humans in some way.

To which I add - you can count on it! Heat shock proteins are present in all cells and in all life forms. They're induced when a cell undergoes various types of environmental stresses such as heat, cold and oxygen deprivation, and possibly, oxidative stress as well.

Related readings:
A chaperone pathway in protein disaggregation. Hsp26 alters the nature of protein aggregates to facilitate reactivation by Hsp104.

Heat shock protein 27 in chronic allograft nephropathy: a local stress response.

Posted by Hyscience at July 26, 2005 12:26 AM



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