Cryptobiosis research?

George Hammond ghammond at mediaone.net
Thu Dec 7 17:26:23 EST 2000

John Hunter wrote:
> We talked about this in regard to protein chaperones when I was taking
> a first year grad school course on Cellular Biology.  Apparently, a
> primary reason cells normally get destroyed upon dessication is that
> the proteins glom up and cannot be properly separated upon hydration.
> Protein chaperones, of which heat shock proteins are one type, bind up
> proteins upon dessication and prevent them from glomming up.  When the
> cell is hydrated, the chaperone releases them and the cell can resume
> its activity.  A plant was found in a museum after sitting in a closet
> and was revived with water (some special desert plant which uses
> chaperones whose name I can't recall).  I think Sea monkeys of
> yesteryear work his way to.

GH:  Yeah... I've discovered that much, Glucose and Trehalose (sugar
molecules) bind to the polar sites normally occupied by water and
thereby lock the structural mechanism into a rigid mechanical state
until water is added again.  Trehalose I would guess is your "chaparone"
molecule mentioned above.
  The interesting question to me is whether or not these animals are
technically "dead" or "alive" while they are in this state?  Claims
that "no metabolic activity" takes place while they are in the
Cryptobiotic state seem to be confirmed.
  If this is so, then it seems to tell me that "Life" ultimately
exists at the "molecular" level and not at the cellular level.
Would you agree that this phenomena supports that conclusion?
> A search for 'heat shock protein dessication' at
> http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/PubMed/ turned up 10 matches which look
> relevant.
> Susan Lindquist at the University of Chicago studies chaperones and
> protein folding and was recently interviewed on Odyssey, a Chicago NPR
> program, http://www.wbez.org/services/od/od-001129.ram.

GH:  Yes, apparently water is the agent that effects protein folding,
     and therefore this "sugar substitution" method of maintaining
     the shape of the proteins sans water is the fundamental
     process.  Whether the protein molecule can be considered "dead"
     or "alive" in this enbalmed condition seems to be the question.
     Indeed, and particularly, would be the question of the mechanical
     condition of the DNA molecule itself during all this?  Can DNA
     survive complete decissitation?

>         E-Mail: s-lindquist at uchicago.edu
>         Web: http://molbio.uchicago.edu/Faculty/Susan_Lindquist.html
> Her web site has a fair amount if information on the role of
> chaperones.

GH:  Thanks for the info.. I'm suspicious that this is a
     phenomena of fundamental importance in connection with
     the "quantum mechanical" details of Life function.
       Moreover, I suspect the fundamental result has not
     been recognized/discovered yet... just a hunch.
> John Hunter
> >>>>> "George" == George Hammond <ghammond at mediaone.net> writes:
>     George> [Hammond] Cryptobiosis created quite a sensation in the
>     George> 19th century when it was first discovered... even such
>     George> luminaries as Paul Broca studied it.  Turns out the
>     George> mechanism is still not well understood in the 21st
>     George> century.  Small animals, less than 1-mm in size, composed
>     George> typically of 1,000 cells, but having a brain, nervecords,
>     George> digestive system, feet etc. (nematodes, tardigrades, brine
>     George> shrimp, rotifers etc.) can actually be (naturally or
>     George> artificially) decissitated, frozen, vacuumized, heated
>     George> etc.. and are virtually ruled "dead", sometimes for years,
>     George> decades or centuries... can then be revived by simply
>     George> putting them in a drop of water!  These are animals, not
>     George> plants, mind you.  In the 19th century this was considered
>     George> proof of the "Resurrection" and caused quite a
>     George> controversy.  I am curious as to what present day thinking
>     George> about this phenomena is.... e.g., are these animals
>     George> actually "dead" during cryptobiosis?  I mean, what is the
>     George> definition of "dead"?  Are spores dead?  On the technical
>     George> side, has any in depth research been done on the solid
>     George> state structure of the cells?  for instance, is their
>     George> microtubulin activity during this phase?  Any activity at
>     George> all?  does anybody know who the world's leading expert on
>     George> this subject is?  Any recent hi-grade research
>     George> publications on the subject?  Journals dedicated to the

George Hammond, M.S. Physics
Email:    ghammond at mediaone.net
Website:  http://people.ne.mediaone.net/ghammond/index.html

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