We know why tardigrades survive dehydration

They are known to be real extreme creatures: tardigrades live in particularly hostile environments, some species even resisting the vacuum of space! And a new study has just credited them with a new achievement: resistance to extreme drought.

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[EN VIDÉO] Tardigrades, superheroes in the microscopic world
With their stocky bodies and tiny clawed feet, tardigrades are some of the best creatures in the microscopic world. But don’t be fooled by appearances: their plump rolls hide things from real superheroes.

In the vacuum of space, under pressure Exceptional, at temperatures close to absolute zero Or, conversely, very high…, the tardigradesFrom its top millimeter in size, it resists everything! especially in the case of drying Intense, according to a study recently published in Plus Biology. The researchers explain that tardigrades enter a metabolic state evacuation It is called anhydrobiosis: then its vital functions are almost completely stopped, but if moisture returns, then everything Metabolism resume.

A process that the team of biologists wanted to deepen: they initially used a solvent A chemical, trifluoroethanol, in order to reproduce drought conditions tardigrades. Then, after many manipulations, they were able to identify Proteins Surround the little creatures, forming a kind of protective gel around them.

“It is thought that when water leaves the cell, a type of protein must help the cell maintain its strength. physical To avoid collapsing on itself, Takekazu Kunieda said in a communicationco-author of the study and Assistant Professor at the University of Tokyo. After testing several different types, we found that soluble cytoplasmic proteins are abundant in the heat (Cahs), which are unique to tardigrades, are responsible for protecting their cells from dehydration.”

The challenges of medicine in the future

These specific proteins are shaped as a cytoskeleton It consists of gel-like filaments, when the cell it contains becomes dehydrated. In this way, you protect it from mechanical stresses that can break it. A reversible process: when the cell regains water, it pulls on the capillaries. However, the Proteins Cahs are unique to tardigrades, although according to the study, “Proteins with similar properties could be present in other organisms tolerant of drying and contribute to resistance to me Stress “. It is a huge challenge for science, because such a mechanism would in particular make it possible to better preserve some medicines.

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