Oviedo. A team of researchers from the University of Oviedo deciphered the genome of the immortal jellyfish (Turritopsis dohrnii), and has defined various genomic keys that contribute to extending its longevity to the point of avoiding its death.
The study, directed by Carlos López-Otín, was published on Monday in the journal Proceedings, of the National Academy of Sciences.
The jellyfish under study, a few millimeters long, has the ability to reverse the direction of its life cycle towards an earlier asexual stage called a polyp.
The vast majority of living beings, after the reproductive stage, advance in a characteristic process of cellular and tissue aging that culminates in the death of the organism. Nevertheless, T. dohrnii has the power to choose another path: reverse its life cycle and rejuvenate.
The genome sequencing of Turritopsis dohrnii, along with that of his mortal sister Turritopsis rubra, and the use of bioinformatics and comparative genomics tools have allowed researchers to identify genes that are amplified or have differential variants characteristic of the immortal.
These genes are associated with DNA reproduction and repair, telomere maintenance, renewal of the stem cell population, intercellular communication, and reduction of the oxidative cellular environment.
All of them affect processes that in humans have been associated with longevity and healthy aging. In addition, the exhaustive study of changes in gene expression during the rejuvenation process in this immortal jellyfish has revealed gene silencing signals mediated by the so-called Polycomb pathway and increased expression of genes related to the cell pluripotency pathway. .
Both processes are necessary for specialized cells to dedifferentiate and be able to become any type of cell, thus forming the new organism. These results suggest that these two biochemical pathways are fundamental mediators of the cyclical rejuvenation of this animal.
In this sense, Maria Pascual-Torner, postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Oviedo and first author of the article together with Dido Carrero, highlighted that “more than there being a single key to rejuvenation and immortality, the various mechanisms found would act synergistically as a whole, thus orchestrating the process to ensure the success of this jellyfish’s renewal.”
Finally, Carlos López-Otín, professor at the Asturian university, indicates that “the work does not pursue the search for strategies to achieve the dreams of human immortality that some announce, but to understand the keys and limits of the fascinating cellular plasticity that allows Some organisms are capable of traveling back in time.
“From this knowledge we hope to find better answers to the numerous diseases associated with aging that currently overwhelm us”, adds the researcher in this regard.
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