The Cell Nucleus in Physiological and Experimentally Induced Hypometabolism

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M. Malatesta (2006), JBIS, 59, 130-133

Refcode: 2006.59.130
Keywords: cell nucleus, hibernation, hypometabolism, manned space missions

The main problem for manned space mission is, at present, represented by the mass penalty associated to the human presence. An efficient approach could be the induction of a hypometabolic stasis in the astronauts, thus drastically reducing the physical and psychological requirements of the crew. On the other hand, in the wild, a reduction in resource consumptions physiologi- cally occurs in certain animals which periodically enter hibernation, a hypometabolic state in which both the energy need and energy offer are kept at a minimum. During the last twelve years, we have been studying different tissues of hibernating dormice, with the aim of analyzing their features during the euthermia -hibernation-arousal cycle as well as getting insight into the mechanisms allowing adaptation to hypometabolism. We paid particular attention to the cell nucleus, as it is the site of chief metabolic functions, such as DNA replication and RNA transcription. Our observations revealed no significant modification in the basic features of cell nuclei during hibernation; however, the cell nuclei of hibernating dormice showed unusual nuclear bodies containing molecules involved in RNA pathways. Therefore, we supposed that they could represent storage/assembly sites of several factors for processing some RNA which could be slowly synthesised during hibernation and rapidly and abundantly released in early arousal in order to meet the increased metabolic needs of the cell. The nucleolus also underwent structural and molecular modifications during hibernation, maybe to continue important nucleolar functions, or, alternatively, permit a most efficient reactivation upon arousal. On the basis of the observations made in vivo , we recently tried to experimentally induce a reversible hypometabolic state in in vitro models, using cell lines derived from hibernating and non-hibernating species. By administering the synthetic opioid DADLE, we could significantly reduce both RNA transcrip- tion and export to cytoplasm, protein synthesis and cell proliferation. In addition, we induced the formation of some nuclear bodies similar to those found in natural hibernators. The total reversibility of DADLE effects and the absence of cytotoxicity make this molecule an interesting candidate to induce a controlled hypometabolic state, at least in in vitro systems.


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