Microscopic tardigrades effectively protect against radiation

Living organisms on Earth react differently toexposure to radiation. As a result of evolution, various defense mechanisms against deadly rays have been developed. The study of these opportunities will benefit from the experience of the animal world in the field of medicine, when space exploration and other useful purposes.

University of California teamin San Diego found out the mechanism of action of DNA protection from radiation exposure in microscopic invertebrates (1.5 mm in length) called tardigrades.

Specialists have studied the unique ability of cells.tardigrades should not be mutated when exposed to radiation, in addition, pathologies did not develop in the organism of creatures. A huge dose of radiation, of course, also kills tardigrades, however, repeated cyclic irradiation with medium doses does not have a significant effect on the creatures.

The reason for the unusually high survivabilitytardigrades, allowing them not only to withstand radiation, but also to survive at temperature ranges from “minus” 272 to “plus” 150 ºC, to live in an airless vacuum at high pressures, has become the phenomenon of anhydrobiosis.

This condition is similar to suspended animation whenthe body hibernates for protective purposes. However, anhydrobiosis is also characterized by high resistance to critical dehydration. In this state, tardigrades are able to survive critical days of extreme conditions, providing themselves protection from hydroxyl radicals, which are the main destructive force of radiation.

In 2016, scientists discovered in tardigradesunique Dsup protein that no living creature on Earth has. It is Dsup in partnership with chromatin, a mixture of proteins and DNA fragments that forms a kind of protective cloud around DNA. Such protection creates a barrier impenetrable to hydroxyl radicals and provides molecular protection for tardigrade cells from lethal radiation.

According to California scientists, Dsup did not ariseas an evolutionary mechanism of radiation control, and was developed to protect the organism of tardigrades from dehydration, when hydroxyl radicals formed in the process of drying of the marshes in poisonous silt.