As cells age, the nucleus lets the bad guys in | Science News


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As cells age, the nucleus lets the bad guys in

Stable pore proteins in nuclear membrane stick around but also weaken

1:28pm, January 22, 2009

As cells get older, they don’t lose their hair or teeth. Instead, they lose control over their nuclear membrane, the protective barrier that encases DNA in the nucleus, concludes a study published in the Jan. 23 Cell. This age-dependent leakiness may be closely tied to cell deterioration and age-related diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, the new work suggests.


“The implications of this study for our study of brain aging and for neurodegenerative diseases are potentially profound,” comments John Woulfe, a specialist in age-related diseases at the University of Ottawa in Canada. The new findings, he says, represent “an important step forward by bringing the gateway to the nucleus, the nuclear pore, into the fray.”


Nuclear membranes are like screen doors on a porch: They let the refreshing breeze in but keep the mosquitoes out. The double-layered membrane

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