Monday, September 8, 2008

Robustness and back-up systems

New Evidence On The Robustness Of Metabolic Networks

Biological systems are constantly evolving in ways that increase their fitness for survival amidst environmental fluctuations and internal errors. Now, in a study of cell metabolism, a Northwestern University research team has found new evidence that evolution has produced cell metabolisms that are especially well suited to handle potentially harmful changes like gene deletions and mutations.

You Can Be Replaced: Immune Cells Compensate For Defective DNA Repair Factor
Genetic instability can lead to multiple problems, including cell death and many forms of cancer. Therefore, it is absolutely critical for cells to have both the means to constantly survey genes for damage and the mechanisms to repair broken DNA. Currently, there are six well characterized classical non-homologous end-joining (C-NHEJ) factors that repair double strand breaks (DSBs) in mammalian cells.Lymphocytes, a type of immune cell, use a kind of genetic shuffling called variable, diversity, joining V(D)J recombination. This gene shuffling occurs during lymphocyte development and helps to produce diverse immune system cells that can recognize all sorts of different foreign substances, called antigens, that might pose a threat to the organism. Previous work in mice has shown that deficiency of C-NHEJ factors results in a severely compromised immune system, because of incomplete V(D)J recombination, along with increased sensitivity to cellular ionizing radiation (IR) and genomic instability.

Nice to know cell intelligence and evolution from a front-loaded state provide for robust systems with back-up. Preadaptation is good for the future.

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