How your body clock avoids hitting the snooze button

January 29, 2009

Scientists from Queen Mary, University of London have discovered a new part of the mechanism which allows our bodyclocks to reset themselves on a molecular level.

Circadian clocks regulate the daily fluctuations of many physiological and behavioural aspects in life, and are synchronised with our surrounding environment via light or temperature cycles. Natural changes in the length of the day mean that an animal's circadian clock often has to reset itself on a molecular level, to avoid getting out of sync with the changing calendar.

Professor Ralf Stanewsky and his team from Queen Mary's School of Biological and Chemical Sciences study the circadian clocks of Drosophila, a type of fruit fly. Writing in the journal Current Biology, they report that the resetting process is governed by three factors, called Cryptochrome, Jetlag and Timeless.

The team's findings suggest that the light responses of circadian clocks are fine tuned on a molecular, by small differences in the binding affinities of clock proteins.

Professor Stanewsky explains: "A circadian photoreceptor called Cry is activated by light in the blue spectrum. Once active, Cry then becomes able to bind to a protein called Jetlag. The Jetlag protein then helps to destroy another protein called Timeless, which is used to reset the bodyclock.

"Crucially though, we found that Jetlag also helps to destroy the original photoreceptor Cry itself. This allows the Timeless protein to reaccumulate during the next day, making sure that the clock mechanism continues to tick."

Source: Queen Mary, University of London

Explore further: Night shifts may hinder body's ability to repair DNA damage

Related Stories

Active 24/7 and doing great

June 21, 2017

Circadian clocks control the day-night cycle of many living beings. But what do the pacemakers do in animals whose activities do not follow this pattern? Scientists from the University of Würzburg have now looked into this ...

Tips to curb nighttime eating

June 22, 2017

(HealthDay)—Are you a regular victim of the late-night snack attack? Mindlessly munching on chips or diving head first into a pint of ice cream?

How circadian clocks communicate with each other

May 30, 2017

Multiple biological clocks control the daily rhythms of physiology and behavior in animals and humans. Whether and how these clocks are connected with each other is still a largely open question. A new study now shows that ...

Delayed meal times reset body clocks

June 1, 2017

The human body runs according to a roughly 24-hour cycle, controlled by a "master" clock in the brain and peripheral clocks in other parts of the body that are synchronized according to external cues, including light. Now, ...

Recommended for you

Galaxy NGC 1132 has a disturbed hot halo, study finds

June 27, 2017

(Phys.org)—A new study recently published on arXiv.org reveals that the fossil group galaxy NGC 1132 (also known as UGC 2359) has a disturbed and asymmetrical hot halo. The findings provide new insights into the formation ...

0 comments

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.