Perpetual ageing of proteins remains unproven

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PGK protein from RCSB PDB (, PDB ID 3PGK (H. C. Watson, et al. (1982) EMBO J 1: 1635)

Researchers at FAU discover a scientific error

Ever since a team of researchers published an article in 2015 that seemed to prove that proteins continue to age during their entire lifetime without ever reaching a stationary state, this has been taken as fact by the scientific community. FAU researchers Igor Goychuk and Thorsten Pöschel have now discovered that their colleagues Hu et al. were mistaken in 2015. Goychuk and Pöschel recently published this discovery in the journal Nature Physics.

At the time, Xiaohu Hu and other researchers based their findings on molecular dynamic simulations in combination with previously published experimental data. They presumed that proteins age until the end of their individual lives, which means from a physical perspective that the specific progression of dynamic processes in a protein depends on the age of the protein. This would mean that proteins have a long-term memory. By carefully checking the original data, Goychuk and Pöschel have now been able to demonstrate that the sensational conclusion of 2015 was based on an error during data analysis and a misinterpretation of the data. When the measured – or simulated – data are put correctly into the context of the relevant variables of kinetic theory, the claims made in 2015 cannot be proven. On the basis of the data and/or methods currently available to us, there is no indication that proteins do actually age forever. The race to gain a deeper understanding of the ageing processes of proteins is back on…

Further information:

PD Dr. Igor Goychuk

Prof. Dr. Thorsten Pöschel