Vibrations influence the circadian clock of a fruit fly

Jan 31, 2014
Vibrations influence the circadian clock of a fruit fly
Credit: University College London

The internal circadian clock of a Drosophila (fruit fly) can be synchronised using vibrations, according to research published today in the journal Science. The results suggest that an animal's own movements can influence its clock.

The circadian clock, which underlies the daily rhythms characterising most of our bodily functions including the sleep cycle, is mainly set by diurnal changes in light and temperature.

Researchers at UCL and Queen Mary, University of London, have now shown that exposure to 12-hour cycles of vibration and silence are also sufficient to synchronise the fly's , and corresponding daily locomotor activity.

"In a nutshell, our research shows that, in flies, the which regulates most bodily functions can be set – or entrained – not only by light and temperature, but also by mechanical stimuli that excite sensory receptors in the body," says Dr Joerg Albert (UCL Ear Institute), a senior author of the study.

"Our research encourages further research into the genetic and cellular basis of how the circadian clock is set," continues Dr Albert. "In mammals and humans there has been sporadic, but as yet inconclusive evidence to show if, and how, movement such as scheduled physical exercise can reset the clock."

Professor Ralf Stanewsky (Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, UCL; previously Queen Mary, University of London) another lead author of the study added: "Our experiments offer a novel pathway for setting the circadian clock that may well be relevant for the treatment of clock related diseases, such as insomnia, depression, bipolar disorder.

"It also offers a novel way to set the using movement as well as extrinsic entrainment such as ambient light and temperature fluctuations. It could point to the existence of an animal's internal 'own time' that might have to be negotiated with the external 'world time'."

Explore further: Researchers find protein necessary for fertility performs different roles in sperm, eggs

More information: A Mechanosensory Pathway to the Drosophila Circadian Clock Alekos Simoni, Werner Wolfgang, Matthew P. Topping, Ryan G. Kavlie, Ralf Stanewsky, Joerg T. Albert. Science 31 January 2014: Vol. 343 no. 6170 pp. 525-528. DOI: 10.1126/science.1245710

Related Stories

Recommended for you

In a role reversal, RNAs proofread themselves

Jan 29, 2015

Building a protein is a lot like a game of telephone: information is passed along from one messenger to another, creating the potential for errors every step of the way. There are separate, specialized enzymatic ...

Growing functioning brain tissue in 3D

Jan 29, 2015

Researchers at the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology in Japan have succeeded in inducing human embryonic stem cells to self-organize into a three-dimensional structure similar to the cerebellum, providing ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.