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Old stem cell barriers fade away

In young brains, damaged proteins confined in newly formed neurons

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2:00pm, September 17, 2015

THE GREAT DIVIDE  Young brain stem cells (one shown dividing, left) pack old proteins tagged with ubiquitin (red) into one daughter cell. Old cells (one shown dividing, right) lose a barrier that segregates the damaged proteins. DNA is shown in gray.

Breaking down barriers usually sounds like a good thing, but not for aging stem cells.

When young brain stem cells split in two, they can wall off damaged proteins in one daughter cell, leaving the other spry and ready to divide again, researchers report in the Sept. 18 Science. With age, the barrier sequestering the damaged proteins breaks down, spilling cellular garbage into both cells, the team also discovered. The spillover may diminish older stem cells’ ability to divide and replenish tissues. Learning why such barriers fall apart may eventually lead to new kinds of antiaging therapies.

Researchers have previously demonstrated that yeast, fruit fly cells and some types of human cells grown in lab dishes divvy up proteins unequally. The new study is the first to show that lopsided segregation happens in the brain, says developmental biologist Eddy De Robertis of UCLA. He was not

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