But Reznick found it throughout the mole-rat’s body.
The second component is an enzyme called KHK, which alters fructose so that it can be fed into an energy-providing pathway called glycolysis whilst at the same time dodging a highly regulated step of glycolysis that is blocked when oxygen levels are low.
The mole-rats also had plenty of KHK throughout their bodies.
Naked mole-rats have a unique back-up system to carry out metabolism without oxygen.
When the oxygen levels are too low to process glucose, a normal source of energy, the animals switch to metabolizing fructose.
Scientists of the Max Delbrück Center of Molecular Medicine now explain this unique survival strategy in the current issue of the journal .
As most naked mole-rats scurry off to work, some continue to lie on their backs for a while in the sleeping chamber.
They can even survive 18 minutes of total oxygen deprivation by falling into a kind of suspended animation.
When this happens, their heart rate drops from 200 to about 50 beats per minute.
The organs of the naked mole rats performed much better than those of mice.
Even after one hour, synapses continued to transmit signals. Michael Gotthardt of the MDC, a specialist in cardiovascular research, demonstrated that the naked mole-rat’s heart could perform just as well with fructose as with glucose.
It’s not laziness that keeps these animals from fulfilling their duties in the eusocial community structure of the mole-rats – it’s ventilation.
100 naked mole-rats may sleep together in a mound, and last night they were stuck in the middle.
This supplies energy to cells in vital organs that are highly sensitive to reduced oxygen levels.