Microbiology: after death, zombie genes are reactivated!

American researchers have identified in some animals several hundred genes that work even after several days, some of which are reactivated after a long period of silence. This work demonstrates that the cellular machinery does not suddenly stop immediately after death.

Death occurs when the brain and heart shut down along with the respiratory and circulatory system. If the vital functions of the body no longer work, this does not mean that all life has disappeared there, far from it. Recent papers state that biological life continues after death.

This research was conducted by Peter Noble and his microbiology team at the University of Washington (USA). These focused on animals, namely mice and zebrafish in which we sought to understand how genes reacted after death. It was a question of knowing if their activity stopped suddenly or gradually and if certain genes “come back to life”.

The study required two days of observation for the mice and four days for the fish, but the result is the same: the genes do not all die gradually and even less suddenly. While some of them (all the same about a thousand) reactivated or increased their activity, and this, in the first 24 hours following death. For the zebrafish, 548 genes were still active after four days!

Scientists have found commonalities between death and the beginning of life. It should be known that when death occurs, a large number of genes are stimulated, in particular those which are activated in the event of an emergency such as those which stimulate the immune system or inflammation or those which help to manage stress. No wonder. However, the surprise comes rather from the fact that some of these genes that participated in the construction of the individual’s embryo only awoke after his death! This is like saying that certain genes prove that designing a new organism is akin to trying to bring back a dead body, although that is not possible.

However, not all of these zombie genes have a positive effect since some participate in the appearance of cancers, which can have an impact on organ transplants.

This research on post-mortem genes will, among other things, help criminology experts better date deaths.

Sources: Futura Sciences – Sciences and Future

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