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Proteins offer clue to longevity in rats

May 7, 2012 at 8:24 PM

SAN ANTONIO, May 7 (UPI) -- U.S. researchers say they have found a clue as to why the naked mole-rat lives many years longer than any other mouse or rat -- and it's all about proteins.

Scientists at the University of Texas Health Science Center report the naked mole-rat's cellular machines for protein disposal -- called proteasome assemblies -- differ in composition from those of other, shorter-lived rodents, giving the naked mole-rat a superior ability to remove damaged proteins and maintain protein integrity.

Researchers said the strange, hairless rodents maintain exceptional levels of that integrity throughout their long and healthy life.

"More effective removal of damaged proteins within the cell would enable the animal to be able to maintain good function and is likely to contribute to its excellent maintenance of good health well into its third decade of life," researcher Rochelle Buffenstein said.

The study, conducted at the university's Barshop Institute of Longevity and Aging Studies, has been published in the journal PLoS ONE.

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