Michigan State University researchers find mutant algal strain degrades TAGs slower than usual

February 5, 2020 |

In Michigan, researchers at Michigan State University are studying a mutant algal strain that degrades TAGs slower than usual as algae try to exit hibernation. Somehow, the algal mutant does not manage the hibernation process in a normal way.

The responsible protein, missing due to the mutation, is called Compromised Hydrolysis of Triacylglycerols 7. It is part of a system that helps algae enter or wake up from hibernation. 

These mutant cells also suffer many other problems:

  • They can’t stop their cell cycle genes during hibernation. They keep growing, are bigger than usual and many cells die. In comparison, normal cells stop growth once they enter hibernation.
  • They continue dividing during hibernation, even when they shouldn’t. Their offspring are not equally sized and have disorganized organelles. The situation is comparable to out-of-control human cancer cells that keep dividing and, in turn, form tumors.
  • They are slower to resume growth functions when they try to exit hibernation.

And there is mounting evidence that CHT7 doesn’t work alone.

The team began the study by chopping CHT7 into smaller parts and reinserting them into the mutant to see which parts reverse the defects. This helped highlight the parts that are critical for hibernation and might interact with other proteins. The next step is to examine the other proteins in the complex.

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Category: Research

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