Team creates math model for circadian rhythm

Aug 27, 2007

The internal clock in living beings that regulates sleeping and waking patterns -- usually called the circadian clock -- has often befuddled scientists due to its mysterious time delays. Molecular interactions that regulate the circadian clock happen within milliseconds, yet the body clock resets about every 24 hours. What, then, stretches the expression of the clock over such a relatively long period?

Cornell researchers have contributed to the answer, thanks to new mathematical models recently published.

In the August online edition of Public Library of Science (PLOS) Computational Biology, Cornell biomolecular engineer Kelvin Lee, in collaboration with graduate student Robert S. Kuczenski, Kevin C. Hong '05 and Jordi Garcia-Ojalvo of Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya, Spain, hypothesize that the accepted model of circadian rhythmicity may be missing a key link, based on a mathematical model of what happens during the sleeping/waking cycle in fruit flies.

"We didn't discover any new proteins or genes," Lee said. "We took all the existing knowledge, and we tried to organize it."

Using mathematical models initially created by Hong, who has since graduated, the team set out to map the molecular interactions of proteins called period and timeless -- widely known to be related to the circadian clock.

The group hypothesized that an extra, unknown protein would need to be inserted into the cycle with period and timeless, a molecule that Kuczenski named the focus-binding mediator, in order for the cycle to stretch to 24 hours.

Lee said many scientists are interested in studying the circadian clock, and not just to understand such concepts as jet lag -- fatigue induced by traveling across time zones. Understanding the body's biological cycle might, for example, lead to better timing of delivering chemotherapy, when the body would be most receptive, Lee said.

Source: Cornell University

Explore further: EU, others: Catch plans for Bluefin tuna threaten recovery

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Study discovers a way to control internal clocks

Dec 23, 2014

Researchers hypothesize that targeting components of the mammalian clock with small molecules like REV-ERB drugs may lead to new treatments for sleep disorders and anxiety disorders. It also is possible that ...

Recommended for you

A molecular compass for bird navigation

5 hours ago

Each year, the Arctic Tern travels over 40,000 miles, migrating nearly from pole to pole and back again. Other birds make similar (though shorter) journeys in search of warmer climes. How do these birds manage ...

Salish Sea seagull populations halved since 1980s

6 hours ago

The number of seagulls in the Strait of Georgia is down by 50 per cent from the 1980s and University of British Columbia researchers say the decline reflects changes in the availability of food.

Cultivation of microalgae via an innovative technology

6 hours ago

Preliminary laboratory scale studies have shown consistent biomass production and weekly a thick microalgal biofilm could be harvested. A new and innovative harvesting device has been developed for ALGADISK able to directly ...

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.