b'Carnegie Science|Fall 2019 7Xiaobin Zheng (left) and Yixian Zheng (right) were coauthors on the paper that was published in Aging Cell. Image courtesy Navid Marvi, Carnegie Institution for ScienceProtein, Inflammation, and AgingA ging-related inflammationstructural support system, we thought itunderstand the role that lamins play in can drive the decline of awas natural to ask whether age-relatedaging tissue by studying special cells in the critical structural proteindeterioration of the architectural proteinsthymus that are essential for its called Lamin-B1, whichwould contribute to the degeneration of thedevelopment, organization, and function. contributes to diminishedorgan as a whole, Yixian Zheng explained. As part of our bodys immune system, the immune function in the thymus,One of the major families of structuralthymus makes T cells that find and destroy according to research from Carnegiesproteins is called lamins. They areforeign invaders and fight diseases.Sibiao Yue, Xiaobin Zheng, and Yixianevolutionarily ancient and found in an arrayIn almost all vertebrate species, the Zheng published in Aging Cell of organs and tissues. These proteins are athymus is known to shrink and experience .Each of our cells is supported by amajor component of the meshwork thatarchitectural changes with age, with protein-based cellular skeleton. And eachsupports and organizes a cells nucleus,diminished function.of our tissues is likewise supported by awhere genetic material is stored, and theySince the thymic epithelial cells are protein matrix holding its cells. Theseinfluence gene expression during organessential for thymus development and protein scaffolds are necessary for organsdevelopment and throughout life. Mutationsfunction, they offer us a great model for and tissues to be constructed duringin lamins are linked to developmentalstudying how changes in lamins in these development. defects, premature aging, heart defects, andcells may contribute to the aging process, Since organ building andage-associated organ decay. Yixian Zheng said.maintenance require this protein-basedYue, Zheng, and Zheng wanted toThe researchers found that one member of the family, called Lamin-B1, is required for thymic epithelial cells to develop and maintain normal function. They also demonstrated that a reduction of Lamin-B1 in the thymic epithelial cells YOUNG THYMUS is triggered by an age-associated increase in inflammation. This drives gradual OLD THYMUS deterioration of the thymus, eventually leading to organ dysfunction.? We found a connection between a phenomenon that was already known, age-related inflammation in the thymus, and the deterioration of a key structural protein, Yixian Zheng said.T CELLS Looking forward, the team is interested in probing how this age-related decline in Lamin-B1 impacts the crucial The thymus (inside a human chest) is a vertebrate organ that produces naive T cells, which are essential for immune protection. Thymuses undergo age-associated degeneration and size reduction (right), which results inrole that these architectural proteins play reduced naive T cell production contributing to increased vulnerability to infections and diseases.in maintaining gene expression.Illustration by Navid Marvi, courtesy Carnegie Institution for Science'