‘Housekeeping’ proteins may set aging limit | Science News

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‘Housekeeping’ proteins may set aging limit

Aging cells may seal their fate by keeping worn-out proteins when they sprout offspring

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12:42pm, July 25, 2010

Getting old means never letting go, a new study suggests.

Yeast, and possibly human cells, age at least in part because they hold on to broken-down proteins responsible for pumping out harmful chemicals and bringing in nutrients, researchers report in the August Nature Cell Biology. The finding could indicate that aging results both from a buildup of toxic substances, as researchers have previously suggested, and from a lack of essential nutrients.

Cells can replicate themselves only a finite number of times. For yeast cells that number is 20 to 30. But no one knows what sets the limit.

The new study suggests that a family of proteins known as multidrug resistance transporters is involved in determining how many times a cell can divide, and ultimately, how long an organism will live.

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