(wow) Words Of Wonders Level 2593 Answers – : In addition to allotopic expression (AE), SRF has initiated other projects targeting mitochondrial dysfunction; Can you explain about them and how they relate to the basic technique of allotopic expression?
Well, mitochondrial mutations—and more importantly, large deletions in mitochondrial DNA—accumulate in cells over our lifetime. And unless we do something to correct or bypass that problem, this small part of our cells kills mitochondria, leading to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, diseases of aging that involve the loss of muscle fibers and energy. Age and other diseases and infirmities of aging.
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Long before the Research Foundation existed – long before the platform “Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence” () – our founding CSO Dr. Aubrey de Gray explored possible solutions to this problem, and the only one that seemed possible was allotopic expression (AE): constructing “backup copies” of mutation-prone mitochondrial genes in the safe harbor of the nucleus. AE does not prevent large deletions in mitochondrial DNA, and it does not repair them – but it does.
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A functional solution is the result because it allows our mitochondria to maintain or restore normal energy production even when the original mitochondrial gene mutation is inactivating. And when the Research Foundation was established, the first team of internal researchers we hired were put to work with allotopic expression such as the mito technique.
So – after great advances in science – are we now breaking down a whole new mitotechnique? A couple of reasons. Considered at the most fundamental level, AE is itself an inherently difficult biotechnological challenge. Then there is an additional barrier to delivering it to cells prone to mitochondrial mutations with age. This is reason enough to look for alternative ways to deal with mitochondrial mutations: success is not guaranteed and it takes time to put all the necessary pieces together. So it is better to keep our eyes closed for solutions that may be easier or faster to implement, our future lives and health are at stake.
And we have always noticed that it is good to have options: Dr. De Gray and I dedicated Chapter 6 of The End of Aging to possible alternatives to AE. And as we see, the alternative solutions our Mito researchers are now working on may not be the case
As complementary or synergistic solutions to AE, each has its strengths and weaknesses, and each is implemented on different timescales.
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Dr. Boominatham and colleagues in our Mito lab are now working on two of these alternative strategies—both Dr. De Gray considered or approved. You can think of them as a backup strategy for backups.
As discussed on our main page on mitochondrial mutations, one of these techniques is to use a mitochondrial transplant procedure to replace a cell’s mutated mitochondria with healthy ones. As you may have heard, physician-scientists are extracting mitochondria from patients’ muscles and transplanting them into other tissues as an experimental treatment for many acute emergencies—especially regurgitation of heart attacks in children experiencing post-surgery. Congenital heart disease. This “ischemia-reperfusion injury” depletes cells of cellular energy (ATP), damages mitochondria, and can even lead to heart muscle cells—and patient death. When doctors transplant pre-harvested mitochondria into the heart during surgery, the transplanted cellular powerhouses enter the heart muscle cells and instantly increase the ATP they need for optimal recovery.
But these transplanted mitochondria don’t last long: once the crisis is over, tracer studies show that the cells’ remaining original mitochondria soon regenerate themselves and replace them. It’s even better when a cell needs a few extra functional mitochondria for temporary growth in an acute emergency. But it certainly doesn’t help the long-term problem we face with aging, where the cells’ own mitochondria are the bad guys. Under such conditions, the mutation-carrying mitochondria quickly adapt to the best, the first major deletion mutation to occur in the cell during aging.
So for mitochondrial transplantation to serve as a rejuvenating biotechnology, we need not only a way to get transplanted mitochondria into cells, but also a way to avoid the selective advantage of native mitochondria and especially the strong mutation-carrying advantage. Mitochondria.
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Here comes the relatively new biotechnology “gene drive”. Instead of introducing healthy mitochondria and hoping they somehow take over the cell, we use a genetic buzzsaw called a restriction enzyme to transplant the mitochondria. Restriction enzymes are molecular tools produced by bacteria that cleave hostile DNA molecules at or near defined target sites—sites that are suitably large.
The name “restriction enzyme” comes from the fact that natural restriction enzymes are used by bacteria to “limit” the growth of invading viruses by destroying their genetic material. Readers will be familiar with certain types of restriction enzymes already in use for biotechnological applications: genome editing tools such as CRISPR/Cas9 and TALENS.
In gene drive strategies, engineered mitochondria use restriction enzymes as if they were primitive weapons. A restriction enzyme that designs mitochondria for transplantation is designed to target one of several restriction sites naturally present in the host’s mitochondria. And to prevent transplanted mitochondria from dying by their own nuclear swords, scientists develop targeted restricted sites in their genomes and render them immovable by enzymes. After being taken up by the host cell, the engineered mitochondria fuse with the cell’s native, potentially mutated, mitochondrial genome. A restriction enzyme then quickly works to remove the cell’s original mitochondrial DNA, making way for new, transplanted mitochondria to take over.
The gene drive approach is similar to cellular prescribed burning, removing existing unhealthy growth to make room for healthy new ones. Credit: U.S. Forest Service Pacific Northwest Region. public domain.
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The reason deletion-carrying mitochondria take over the cell is not because of runaway self-replication, but because they mark them (“mitophagy”), because they are almost invisible to the machinery that detects and removes defective mitochondria. The result is that when other mitochondria are damaged over time and reduced during normal operation, the angel of death descends on the deleted mitochondria. When their genetically insulted counterparts are killed after several rounds, the deletion-carrying mitochondria are the only type left in the cell.
We can’t say much about the other strategy the Mito team is exploring as it’s an early project and we want to make sure we’re on the right track before making any announcements. All we can say right now is that our scientists have identified a drug that potentially “turns off” the harmful mitochondria, attracting the attention of the mitophagy machinery and allowing it to kill. In some cases, such “shutdown” is sufficient to keep deletion-bearing mitochondria away before they have even crossed the cell. If the drug we’re testing (or similar) can do that, we can trap deletion-carrying mitochondria in a minority population to make many cells function normally and keep other cells free of the deletion. First, completely capture the mitochondria and send them to their graves.
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DNA can put a life jacket on mutation-carrying mitochondria inside the cell, giving them the proteins they normally need to produce energy even if they suffer from a deletion mutation. At Gene Drive Technology, we engineer
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Instead of engineering the organelles’ DNA—and deletion-carrying mitochondria to keep humming—transplanted outside the cell, we empower them to completely purge the mutated mitochondria from the cell.
The “unmasking” approach takes a completely different angle from both AE and gene drift. These strategies take into account the fact that the aging process causes harmful mitochondria to overtake some cells and either drive mutant mitochondrial function (AE) or delete and replace them (gene drive). Only the “unmasking method” can work
Editing is complete, and the cell helps identify deletion-carrying mitochondria so they don’t achieve wall-to-wall dominance that would threaten the cell and its neighbors in the first place.
All of these methods have potential advantages and disadvantages, and by layering several slices of Swiss cheese, the combination allows them to cover the gaps left by the other, allowing us to find faster solutions to the problem of mitochondrial mutations and make it final solution stronger.
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It remains permanently soluble in the cell’s nuclear DNA and acts regardless of mitochondrial mutational status, creating an allotopic expression that is robust and highly durable. It is on the other side as well
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