Genetic switch for circadian rhythms discovered

Dec 12, 2007

University of California, Irvine researchers have identified the chemical switch that triggers the genetic mechanism regulating our internal body clock.

The finding, which uncovers the most specific information about the body’s circadian rhythms to date, identifies a precise target for new pharmaceuticals that can treat sleep disorders and a host of related ailments. The study appears in the Dec. 13 issue of Nature.

Paolo Sassone-Corsi, Distinguished Professor and Chair of Pharmacology, found that a single amino acid activates the genes that regulate circadian rhythms. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, and Sassone-Corsi was surprised to find that only a single amino acid activates the body-clock mechanism because of the complex genes involved.

“Because the triggering action is so specific, it appears to be a perfect target for compounds that could regulate this activity,” Sassone-Corsi said. “It is always amazing to see how molecular control is so precise in biology.”

Circadian rhythms are the body’s intrinsic time-tracking system, which anticipates environmental changes and adapts to the appropriate time of day. They regulate a host of body functions, from sleep patterns and hormonal control to metabolism and behavior. About 10 percent to 15 percent of all human genes are regulated by circadian rhythms. Disruption of these rhythms can profoundly influence human health and has been linked to insomnia, depression, heart disease, cancer and neurodegenerative disorders.

The gene CLOCK and its partner BMAL1 trigger circadian rhythms. Sassone-Corsi and his research team discovered last year that CLOCK functions as an enzyme that modifies chromatin, the protein architecture of a cell’s DNA.

In this current study, the Sassone-Corsi team learned that a single amino acid in the BMAL1 protein undergoes a modification that triggers the genetic chain of events involved with circadian rhythms.

Sassone-Corsi notes that if this amino-acid modification is impaired in any way, the switching mechanism can be thrown off, which can be the genetic underpinning of circadian-rhythm-related ailments. Currently, Sassone-Corsi is testing antibodies that can target this BMAL1 amino-acid activity.

Source: University of California - Irvine

Explore further: Age of puberty in girls influenced by which parent their genes are inherited from

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Schizophrenia's genetic architecture revealed (w/ Video)

Jul 23, 2014

Queensland scientists are closer to effective treatments for schizophrenia after uncovering dozens of sites across the human genome that are strongly associated with a genetic predisposition to schizophrenia.

Mysterious esophagus disease is autoimmune after all

Jul 22, 2014

(Medical Xpress)—Achalasia is a rare disease – it affects 1 in 100,000 people – characterized by a loss of nerve cells in the esophageal wall. While its cause remains unknown, a new study by a team of researchers at ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Nikola
not rated yet Dec 12, 2007
mmmmmm....new pharmaceuticals
HenisDov
not rated yet Jul 03, 2008

Circadian Rhythm: Genes Are Organisms, Not Molecular Contraptions


A. "Molecular Basis And Regulation Of Circadian Rhythms In Plants"

http://www.eureka...2408.php


B. A mechanisms of energy absorption, by which archae genes became and function as active energy packages, i.e. became living organisms:

http://www.physor...032.html


C. Chromosomes coil more tightly during the day and relax at night.

http://www.physor...572.html


D. My elsewhere suggestions re the origin of Circadian Rhythm applies neatly in the above two cases. I posit that the mechanism involved in the absorption of energy by the archae genes is the mechanism of phasing of RNA-type olygomers into replicating primal Earth organisms, individual independent genes. This phasing from chemicals to living organisms was the genesis of Earth's biosphere.

Science will comprehend one day that genes are primal and genomes are evolved organisms.

Circadian rhythm is an innate gene-genome characteristic, inborn-brought-about at the energetic conditions during the genesis of genes in the process of phasing from chemical olygomers to replicating life, to living genes which are base life energy packages.

For the archaic genes, parents of all Earth's Life, direct sunlight was the only source of energy, and it was available to them at different times of the day in accordance with their location on Earth...


Dov Henis

http://blog.360.y...Q--?cq=1