Thinking of Summer in the Cold BC Winter

December 16, 2014 at 3:18 pm Leave a comment

A team of scientists from the University of British Columbia have genetically engineered mice that are able to withstand the wrinkle-inducing power of UV light found in the strong summer sun. It has been known for decades that prolonged exposure to the sun over one’s lifetime can cause premature aging and wrinkling of the skin. This has lead to a plethora of anti-aging skin creams and sunscreens that are designed to block out harmful UV rays in the hope of preventing sun-induced wrinkles. Now, Professor David Granville of UBC’s Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine has engineered mice lacking Granzyme B and found that the mice retained youthful-looking skin compared to the aged skin on normal mice. However, the benefits of Granville’s findings are not just limited to youthful looking skin.

Granzyme B (GzmB) is a serine protease that is expressed by a variety of cells and cleaves a number of extracellular membrane (ECM) proteins during inflammatory events. The breakdown of the ECM is known to be an indicator of many chronic inflammatory diseases. Thus, Granville and his team hypothesized that inhibiting the activity of GzmB may work to inhibit the breakdown of ECM during the inflammatory process. When Granville exposed GzmB deficient mice to solar-stimulated UV irradiation, they found that degradation of ECM proteins had slowed down which had manifest itself in the lack of development of expected wrinkles. Based on these findings, Granville has proposed that blocking the activity of GzmB may be an effective method for preventing other diseases associated with ECM degradation such as aneurysms and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease which are caused by the breakdown of collagen and other proteins that provide structure to blood vessels and lung passages.

Reference: Parkinson, L. G., Toro, A., Zhao, H., Brown, K., Tebbutt, S. J. and Granville, D. J. (2014), Granzyme B mediates both direct and indirect cleavage of extracellular matrix in skin after chronic low-dose ultraviolet light irradiation. Aging Cell. doi: 10.1111/acel.12298.

Entry filed under: Biotechnology News and Info from Canadian Universities. Tags: .

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