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Thread: autolysis and mummification

  1. #1 autolysis and mummification 
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    When an organism dies, its body decays not only by the action of decomposers, but also by the releasing of hydrolytic enzymes from lysosomes, which causes autolysis (self digestion). As far as I know, the ancient egyptians were the only people who were able to stop this process by mummification. Does anyone have any ideas on how they could have possibly achieved that?


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    Are you referring to caspases in apoptosis when you talk of hydrolytic enzymes?


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    By hydrolytic enzymes I mean any protease/lipase...or any enzyme that can cause damage to cell organelles and membranes ( sorry, dunno what capsases in apoptosis are).
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    ok, there are natural mechanisms in the cell whereby the cell can tell itself to die. When this happens there is a cascade process involving a number of enzymes called caspases. The caspases break down everything in the cell and the cell breaks up into small vesicles which can be then digested by macrophage (if the body is still alive). This is a natural, controlled cell death and the process is alled apoptosis.

    As far as I know this is an important mechanism when the body dies, but Im not too sure if it can be stopped/how it can be stopped (if the egyptians did at all!)
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    Ok, that's interesting info. but there's no doubt that the egyptians did do it or otherwise the bodies of mummies would not be preserved up to this day, right? If they couldn't stop the process, then the bodies of mummies would decay..
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  7. #6  
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    the egyptians were obviously trying to imitate what happens naturally under desert conditions

    so the question is : how do dry conditions interfere with the enzymatic processes you describe ?
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    I didn't know the body cells break down themselves after death. :| What's the evolutionary purpose of apoptosis in a dead body?
    Whence comes this logic: no evidence = false?

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    When a cell feels it is under stress it will some times undergo apoptosis.
    Lots of cancers cells have the apoptosis genes repressed.

    The evolutionary purpose of apoptosis is so that a single cell will die and not the whole organism.

    Apoptosis does not occur after death because it requires energy - which i am assuming would be in short supply after death.
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    Quote Originally Posted by sigmafactor
    When a cell feels it is under stress it will some times undergo apoptosis.
    Lots of cancers cells have the apoptosis genes repressed.

    The evolutionary purpose of apoptosis is so that a single cell will die and not the whole organism.

    Apoptosis does not occur after death because it requires energy - which i am assuming would be in short supply after death.
    Yea, that's what I was thinking...and there really would be no purpose for it.
    Whence comes this logic: no evidence = false?

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  11. #10  
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    If you are ever bored you should do a google scholar search for papers on apoptosis ... it is actually really cool. But I am nerdy like that. :-D
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  12. #11  
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    I know, its an interesting phenomenon but the whole cascad eof events is RIDICULOUSLY complicated! I question anyone who actively tries to go learning that for fun!!!

    I'll look into what happens on a cellular level when an organism dies.
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