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News

Stress lessons from yeast

Society For General Microbiology : 10 September, 2003  (Company News)
The humble yeast can teach us vital lessons in coping with stress, according to researchers from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne.
The humble yeast can teach us vital lessons in coping with stress, according to researchers from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne.

Speaking at the Society for General Microbiology's meeting at UMIST in Manchester, Dr Jan Quinn will explain how she and colleagues have tracked stress responses in yeast to give a new understanding of how cells cope with oxidative stress.

Reactive oxygen chemicals occur naturally through respiration (breathing) and also by exposure to pollution and sunlight. They are very destructive and attack the three main constituents of our cells: proteins, fats and the vital genetic blueprint for our bodies, DNA.

'Understanding how our cells sense and respond to these reactive chemicals is important, as oxidative-stress induced damage has been linked to ageing and a large number of diseases' says Dr Quinn, of the School of Cell and Molecular Biosciences at the University of Newcastle. 'Our studies in fission yeast have revealed that the cell mounts very specific responses depending on the dose of oxidative stress and this may provide clues for human health'

Although potentially dangerous, our bodies also produce and use reactive oxidative chemicals as a defence against bacteria or fungal infections such as Candida. Work from Dr Quinn and colleagues has identified a signalling pathway in yeast that specifically senses the presence of reactive oxygen chemicals. Dr Quinn adds 'Significantly, this pathway in yeast is missing in humans. Hence, the components in this pathway may provide attractive targets for new anti-fungal drugs in the future.'
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