Tardigrades: we discovered the secret of their extreme resistance!

These tiny animals, no larger than a millimeter in size, are known for their resistance to harsh environments such as the vacuum in space. The semi-indomitable has been highlighted: it would be due to the very special behavior of one of their proteins….

Put them in an environment at 150 degrees or near absolute zero. He fired them quickly with a pistol bullet. Face them with radiation from space. Tardigrades seem to be resistant to anything!

These “water bears” as they are known are small, stocky animals with eight legs. Their survival records are impressive. They are able to enter a state of dormancy to survive in a harsh environment for a long time, before resuming their normal lives. How can this state be maintained for a long time? A team of CNRS researchers has undoubtedly revealed the secret of these extreme creatures.

A protein that can change shape

One of their proteins, CAHS-8, is able to change its shape in the face of a hostile environment. This is called disordered protein. When exposed to stress such as extreme temperature or dehydration, this protein concentrates itself and turns into long fibers. Then fibrous structures consisting of several proteins are generated. The process reverses when the animal leaves the idle state.

According to the study authors, “The ability to form fibrous gels may be inversely related to improved protective properties of these proteins.”

Source:Wiley Online LibraryNovember 2021.

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