Protein stability and resistance to oxidative stress are determinants of longevity in the longest-living rodent, the naked mole-rat

Viviana I. Pérez, Rochelle Buffenstein, Venkata Masamsetti, Shanique Leonard, Adam B. Salmon, James Mele, Blazej Andziak, Ting Yang, Yael Edrey, Bertrand Friguet, Walter Ward, Arlan Richardson, Asish Chaudhuri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

336 Scopus citations


The widely accepted oxidative stress theory of aging postulates that aging results from accumulation of oxidative damage. Surprisingly, data from the longest-living rodent known, naked molerats [MRs; mass 35 g; maximum lifespan (MLSP) > 28.3 years], when compared with mice (MLSP 3.5 years) exhibit higher levels of lipid peroxidation, protein carbonylation, and DNA oxidative damage even at a young age. We hypothesize that age-related changes in protein structural stability, oxidation, and degradation are abrogated over the lifespan of the MR. We performed a comprehensive study of oxidation states of protein cysteines [both reversible (sulfenic, disulfide) and indirectly irreversible (sulfinic/sulfonic acids)] in liver from young and old C57BL/6 mice (6 and 28 months) and MRs (2 and >24 years). Furthermore, we compared interspecific differences in urea-induced protein unfolding and ubiquitination and proteasomal activity. Compared with data from young mice, young MRs have 1.6 times as much free protein thiol groups and similar amounts of reversible oxidative damage to cysteine. In addition, they show less urea-induced protein unfolding, less protein ubiquitination, and higher proteasome activity. Mice show a significant age-related increase in cysteine oxidation and higher levels of ubiquitination. In contrast, none of these parameters were significantly altered over 2 decades in MRs. Clearly MRs have markedly attenuated age-related accrual of oxidation damage to thiol groups and age-associated up-regulation of homeostatic proteolytic activity. These pivotal mechanistic interspecies differences may contribute to the divergent aging profiles and strongly implicate maintenance of protein stability and integrity in successful aging.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3059-3064
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number9
StatePublished - Mar 3 2009


  • Cysteine oxidation
  • Heterocephalus glaber
  • Mechanisms of aging
  • Proteasome activity
  • Protein homeostasis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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