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Plant cell discovery can potentially reverse aging by ‘hacking’ aging process | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #hacker


Scientists in the United States have found a plant protein that they believe can “hack” the aging process. After research at the University of California Riverside, the Golgi apparatus, which is an organelle, can play a role in reversing aspects of aging in humans.

Organelles are found in both plant and human cells and their role is crucial to the healthy functioning of these species. They process essential proteins and lipids before secreting them or moving them onto other cells.

They are named after Camillo Golgi, who was an Italian scientist who was researching the nervous system in 1898. While studying plant stressors, the team at UCR discovered an element of organelles that could potentially preserve a cell’s longevity and this could have implications on aging in humans.

“For us, this finding is a big deal,” said Katie Dehesh, a co-author of the study and a professor of molecular biochemistry at the Californian university. “For the first time, we have defined the profound importance of an organelle in the cell that was not previously implicated in the process of aging.”

Their research initially focused on how thale cress plant cells reacted to external stress, such as infection and poor light. However, the research team soon found that the Golgi apparatus, thanks to a protein it contains, protected the cell against and helped it survive against external factors.

Proteins known as Conserved oligometric Golgi (COG) help the organelle attach carbohydrates, or sugars, to other proteins and lipids. These proteins are then transported to other cells. The process is called glycosylation and this helps with the healthy functioning of cells and other crucial biological functions.

“Golgi are like the post office of the cell,” according to Heeseung Choi, who is the study lead author and a researcher in the Botany and Plant Sciences Department at UCR. “They package and send out proteins and lipids to where they’re needed. A damaged Golgi can create confusion and trouble in the cell’s activities, affecting how the cell works and stays healthy.”

The protein ensures the movement of small ‘envelopes’ that circulate molecules around the cell, which can be crucial in the process of protecting the cell from externally arising issues.

In the study, the researchers modified plants so that they did not contain the protein. Initially, they grew normally, but they soon wilted when they were deprived of sunlight and were unable to convert it into sustenance via photosynthesis. These plants were shown to decline three times faster than those that were not modified and contained the COG protein.

“In the dark, the COG mutants showed signs of aging that typically appear in wild, unmodified plants around day nine,” said Choi. “But in the mutants, these signs manifested in just three days,”

The research team found that, when they enabled the modified plants to create the COG protein again, they were revived to become “normal” plants once again. It was “like nothing happened to them once we reversed the mutation,” according to Dehesh. “These responses highlight the critical importance of the COG protein and normal Golgi function in stress management,” Choi said.

While the research applied to plants, human cells also have a Golgi apparatus ‘post office’ inside them. The human COG complex, which is comprised of eight protein subunits, can impact crucial biological roles such as glycosylation and protein sorting when they don’t work as they should.

This malfunctioning has been shown as a factor in the growth of cancer cells and other diseases, showing how crucial the protein is to a person enjoying good health. The research now wants to study the disruption to this pathway in human cells and examine any potential relationship between human COG proteins and the process of aging and stress.

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There is the potential that this research could lead to therapies that can strengthen cells and shield them from the external issues that can lead to premature aging. “Not only does our research advance our knowledge about how plants age, but it could also provide crucial clues about aging in humans,” said Dehesh.

“When the COG protein complex doesn’t work properly, it might make our cells age faster, just like what we saw in plants when they lacked light. This breakthrough could have far-reaching implications for the study of aging and age-related diseases.”

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