A mother's willingness to sacrifice her own health and safety for the sake of her children is a common narrative across cultures and by no means unique to humans alone. Female polar bears starve, dolphin mothers stop sleeping and some spider moms give themselves as lunch for their crawly babies' first meal.
Now an unexpected discovery at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) shows that even yeast "mothers" do it, giving all to their offspring even at the cost of their own lives.
As described this week in the journal Science, the UCSF scientists found that the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae ensures the health of its budding offspring by pushing essential internal structures known as mitochondria into them.
Mitochondria are the mini powerhouses of living cells, supplying the chemical energy all yeast and higher life forms need to survive. Like all cellular life, yeast need these structures to survive. In the new paper, the UCSF team describes how yeast cells ferry just the right amount of mitochondria along a network of protein tracks and molecular motors into the young yeastlings, which bud off their mother like mini-me's.
But what surprised the researchers, led by Wallace Marshall, PhD, UCSF associate professor of biochemistry and biophysics and UCSF postdoc Susanne Rafelski, PhD, was how yeast mothers continued to give generous amounts of their mitochondria to their offspring even when it meant hastening their own death.
"The mom will pump in as many as [the bud] needs," said Marshall. "The bud gets more and more as it grows, and mom doesn't get any more."
UCSF, which includes a top-ranked medical center providing patient care and many ongoing clinical studies, also is one of the world's leading institutions pursuing fundamental research in basic biomedical fields, including molecular biology, biochemistry, physiology, biophysics and genetics work that offers insight into the ways
|Contact: Jason Socrates Bardi|
University of California - San Francisco