Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Different species' rates of development is determined by the rate of their biochemical reactions

22 November 2020

The Fast Life

"Live fast, die young": the lifestyle of both wayward rockstars and small animals around the world. Different animal species have many structural similarities – rockstars and mice share a basic body pattern, with heart, lungs, veins and more – but vastly different lifespans. A faster lifecycle requires more rapid development, and early developmental processes take half the time in mice compared to humans. To understand this, researchers examined cells in isolation and in situ, and tinkered with gene expression, and found that the speed of core biochemical reactions (shown here in mouse and human cells) that govern cellular processes was independently determined within each individual cell. The rate of reactions like protein degradation sets the pace of development. Knowing this might help understand how to prevent developmental disorders, where things get ahead of themselves, and even the fundamentals of ageing, so we can all live a long life, at whatever pace we choose.

Written by Anthony Lewis

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