Discovered a new mechanism which protects the genome under conditions of oxidative stress

One of the biggest challenges for living beings is to adapt themselves to the environment and, in particular, to changes that involve risk or stress to the body. These conditions can cause metabolic imbalances that cause the so-called oxidative stress, generating a process of overall damage in the cells at multiple levels that may be associated with diseases like cancer, diabetes or neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s

The role of sirtuins

The group of Chromatin Biology of the IDIBELL, led by Alex Vaquero ICREA researcher, studies the role of a family of proteins called sirtuins in response to oxidative stress and its contribution to the development of diseases such as cancer and aging control. Sirtuins act as sensors and promoters of the response to these situations and appear to provide a protective function at the cellular and the organism

The aim of this study was to identify the functional relationship of the sirtuin SIRT1 in the maintenance of constitutive heterochromatin structure, and researchers have discovered that this protein, on the one hand, modulates the levels of the enzyme Suv39H1, involved in the maintenance of heterochromatin structure during the oxidative stress response, and on the other, the results suggest that “the modulation of levels by SirT1 Suv39H1 implies an increase in the rate of renewal of the heterochromatin, which seems to imply a greater protection of the genome “, as explained Vaquero.

The head of the Chromatin Biology group has stated that “this mechanism is important to understand the cellular response to oxidative stress, which is one of the factors that may be one of the keys to the onset of cancer”.

To Alex Vaquero, understanding the role of sirtuins is basic for our health: “Though we would live longer, it would make our lives healthier, we would avoid diseases like diabetes, reduce the incidence of tumors … We would ultimately live with more welfare.”

Article’s reference

Bosch-Presegué L.*, Raurell-Vila H.*, Marazuela-Duque A.*, Kane-Goldsmith N., Valle A., Oliver J., Serrano L. and Vaquero A.* Stabilization of Suv39H1 by SirT1 is part of oxidative stress response and ensures genome protection. Molecular Cell 42, 1-14, April 22nd (2011), doi:10.1016/j.molcel.2011.02.34

*IDIBELL’s researchers

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