Ancient body clock discovered that helps to keep all living things on time

January 26, 2011
Ancient body clock discovered that helps to keep all living things on time

The mechanism that controls the internal 24-hour clock of all forms of life from human cells to algae has been identified by scientists.

Not only does the research provide important insight into health-related problems linked to individuals with disrupted clocks – such as pilots and shift workers – it also indicates that the 24-hour found in human cells is the same as that found in algae and dates back millions of years to early life on Earth.

Two new studies out today in the journal Nature from the Universities of Cambridge and Edinburgh give insight into the circadian clock which controls patterns of daily and seasonal activity, from sleep cycles to butterfly migrations to flower opening.

One study, from the University of Cambridge's Institute of Metabolic Science, has for the first time identified 24-hour rhythms in red blood cells. This is significant because circadian rhythms have always been assumed to be linked to DNA and gene activity, but – unlike most of the other cells in the body – red blood cells do not have DNA.

Akhilesh Reddy, from the University of Cambridge and lead author of the study, said: "We know that clocks exist in all our cells; they're hard-wired into the cell. Imagine what we'd be like without a clock to guide us through our days. The cell would be in the same position if it didn't have a clock to coordinate its daily activities.

"The implications of this for health are manifold. We already know that disrupted clocks – for example, caused by shift-work and jet-lag – are associated with metabolic disorders such as diabetes, mental health problems and even cancer. By furthering our knowledge of how the 24-hour clock in cells works, we hope that the links to these disorders – and others – will be made clearer. This will, in the longer term, lead to new therapies that we couldn't even have thought about a couple of years ago."

For the study, the scientists, funded by the Wellcome Trust, incubated purified from healthy volunteers in the dark and at body temperature, and sampled them at regular intervals for several days. They then examined the levels of biochemical markers – proteins called peroxiredoxins – that are produced in high levels in blood and found that they underwent a 24-hour cycle. Peroxiredoxins are found in virtually all known organisms.

A further study, by scientists working together at the Universities of Edinburgh and Cambridge, and the Observatoire Oceanologique in Banyuls, France, found a similar 24-hour cycle in marine algae, indicating that internal body clocks have always been important, even for ancient forms of life.

The researchers in this study found the rhythms by sampling the peroxiredoxins in algae at regular intervals over several days. When the algae were kept in darkness, their DNA was no longer active, but the algae kept their circadian clocks ticking without active genes. Scientists had thought that the circadian clock was driven by gene activity, but both the and the red blood kept time without it.

Andrew Millar of the University of Edinburgh's School of Biological Sciences, who led the study, said: "This groundbreaking research shows that body clocks are ancient mechanisms that have stayed with us through a billion years of evolution. They must be far more important and sophisticated than we previously realised. More work is needed to determine how and why these clocks developed in people – and most likely all other living things on earth – and what role they play in controlling our bodies."

Explore further: Scientists clock on to how sunlight shapes daily rhythms

More information: The papers 'Circadian Clocks in Human Red Blood Cells' and 'Circadian Rhythms Persist Without Transcription in a Eukaryote' will be published in the 27 January 2010 edition of Nature.

Related Stories

New chemical may lead to jet lag drug

December 16, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Jet lag, as every long-distance airline passenger knows, disrupts the body's normal circadian rhythms, or body clocks, and causes some very unpleasant effects such as disturbed sleep and fatigue. Now scientists ...

Genetic link between body clocks and blood pressure

August 31, 2007

A region of DNA involved in the body’s inbuilt 24 hour cycle (the circadian rhythm) is also involved in controlling blood pressure, report scientists from the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics (WTCHG) at the University ...

Recommended for you

Male baboons found to engage in feticide

January 18, 2017

(Phys.org)—A team of researchers from several institutions in the U.S., some with ties to the Institute of Primate Research, National Museums of Kenya, has found that male baboons in the wild at times engage in feticide. ...

'Molecular scissors' could point the way to genetic cures

January 18, 2017

Guan-En Graham is determined to find out exactly what happened to her father. When she was a child, he developed brain cancer. Since then, she has worked to understand the intricate genetic mechanisms that trigger brain diseases ...

43 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

kevinrtrs
1.2 / 5 (26) Jan 26, 2011
it also indicates that the 24-hour circadian clock found in human cells is the same as that found in algae and dates back millions of years to early life on Earth.
This is a big problem for biological evolution right here. A clock that is used by all living things begs the question - just how did such a non-random thing get to be at such a central position in the life process? Sure one can find such highly regulated time keepers in physics - to wit some types of stars and perhaps other objects in the wild. But how do you get one to beat the drum in a living thing from a random occurrence of events? This is exactly the most vexing question asked by the researcher.
They must be far more important and sophisticated than we previously realised. More work is needed to determine how and why these clocks developed in people

Good luck to him/them.
A much simpler explanation would be that someone KNEW that it was required for life and PUT it there before life got started.
kevinrtrs
1.2 / 5 (23) Jan 26, 2011
"This groundbreaking research shows that body clocks are ancient mechanisms that have stayed with us through a billion years of evolution

This is a guess-to-fact. No one was around to witness and document that such was the case, so this statement here beggars belief.
The fact is that the only thing that is shown is that clocks are found in so far a few living things examined to date and one can then extrapolate to ALL currently living things until proven otherwise. One cannot jump back into time and make such a definitive statement. So please disregard the researcher's premature ejaculation.
Paljor
4.1 / 5 (9) Jan 26, 2011
If that is the case then please explain light speed, the lack of a great worldwide flood in places such as egypt and china, and fossils. all of which disprove the creationist's views of things. As for your statement above,true no one was around to witness that fact but if life was evolving from a few creatures (look at the fossil record less fossils in distant past followed by more as we get closer to our time.) and they had it and they survived then we got ourselves the answer right there.
waremi
5 / 5 (3) Jan 26, 2011
I'm disappointed; I was hoping for "Ancient body clock discovered", and instead all I know is what it isn't. I still don't know what it is...
Javinator
4.6 / 5 (15) Jan 26, 2011
it also indicates that the 24-hour circadian clock found in human cells is the same as that found in algae and dates back millions of years to early life on Earth.

This is a big problem for biological evolution right here. A clock that is used by all living things begs the question - just how did such a non-random thing get to be at such a central position in the life process?


It's non-random because a day on Earth is ~24 hours long. It makes sense that life on a planet with a 24hr long day evolved with a 24hr internal clock.
Twin
1 / 5 (6) Jan 26, 2011
Since the length of a day is a moving target (admittedly slow moving). How did "all" the clocks evolve to keep up with the changes? It seems some should not have evolved and still set to say 21 hrs?
Wulfgar
3.5 / 5 (4) Jan 26, 2011
This is a big problem for biological evolution right here. A clock that is used by all living things begs the question - just how did such a non-random thing get to be at such a central position in the life process? Sure one can find such highly regulated time keepers in physics - to wit some types of stars and perhaps other objects in the wild. But how do you get one to beat the drum in a living thing from a random occurrence of events? This is exactly the most vexing question asked by the researcher.

Earth rotates once every 24 hours. That's not random and its universal.
Wulfgar
5 / 5 (6) Jan 26, 2011
Since the length of a day is a moving target (admittedly slow moving). How did "all" the clocks evolve to keep up with the changes? It seems some should not have evolved and still set to say 21 hrs?


If the nature of this biological clock is that it constantly detects and adjusts to the earth's current rotation cycle, then there's no contradiction.
jscroft
3.7 / 5 (10) Jan 26, 2011
Yah, the link to Intelligent Design is really unnecessary here. The 24-hour day-night cycle has been with us--give or take a few minutes--since well before life evolved on Earth. Given that it has been part of the global environment all along as is DIRECTLY tied to energy availability, why WOULDN'T we expect it to be hard-wired into our biochemistry?
Skeptic_Heretic
4.7 / 5 (14) Jan 26, 2011
This is a big problem for biological evolution right here. A clock that is used by all living things begs the question - just how did such a non-random thing get to be at such a central position in the life process?
Having a common ancestor would introduce common mechanisms. If all life4 has the same time keeping mechanism, guess what that means....

Yep, common ancestor, yet more proof of evolution as a fact.

Conversely, if it was designed like a watch for example, you would expect to see a range of different time keeping processes that were dissimilar from speicies to species.

So again, your inability to think shows your stance to be silly as you simply prove ours further. If you were created, I'd like the receipt so we can return you as defective.
Physmet
5 / 5 (7) Jan 26, 2011
kevin
This is a big problem for biological evolution right here.


So if you find something in common between living things, it proves the creator. AND, when you look at the wide variety of differences in mechanisms used for seeing, hearing, etc., it only proves the creativity of the creator, right? It must be nice to be able to claim any side as proof.

**********************

Alright, switching directions here. I agree that common ancestor makes sense. However, I am curious what the thoughts are as to why this particular piece of the evolutionary puzzle has remained unaltered, while so much of the rest has made a rather large set of changes. Is there a core set of functionality, so to speak, that persists among most living organisms? And, is there something that protects it?
Hesca419
5 / 5 (11) Jan 26, 2011
This is a guess-to-fact. No one was around to witness and document that such was the case, so this statement here beggars belief.


But the Book of Genesis, that's a more reliable source, right?

A much simpler explanation would be that someone KNEW that it was required for life and PUT it there before life got started.


Really? Simpler? Who? How? When? By what technique? How did this entity come about and learn its method?

Your simple explanation explains nothing and implies deep complexity.

Life evolves within a particular set of parameters. Those lifeforms which more capably utilize those parameters will be more likely to propagate. The reliable sunrise is the primary source of energy available for use on this planet. Any surface life that ignored that cycle would have gone extinct by now.

Deep cave or ocean life may lack this cycle. Or it could be dormant. Maybe there's a day-night cycle even without visible sun? Insufficient data. Needs more study.
InterestedAmateur
2.5 / 5 (8) Jan 26, 2011
Please don't feed the trolls it only encourages them. If you ignore them long enough they'll usually get bored and find another forum to disrupt.
gwrede
3.3 / 5 (7) Jan 26, 2011
I was about to post something relevant here, but since there is such a barge of total crap, I cannot expect any serious reader to stay here this long.
rushty
5 / 5 (4) Jan 26, 2011
Kevinrtrs, why do the explanations have to be so mutually exclusive in the first place? If you want to please everyone, just say that your god KNEW it was important to have adaptive and flexible life forms and built in many adaptive processes like a self regulating clock to help them out.

Not that I believe that. But if there were an omniscient god I think it'd be a little more elegant than to hardwire arbitrary numbers like that to life. Any computer programmer knows better than that and they haven't even been at it a century yet.
jokeyxero
3.8 / 5 (6) Jan 27, 2011
10 things to remember so you don't sound like an idiot when talking about the nature of life:

1) Evolution is a description of the end-result, the cause of which is natural selection.
2) Nobody ever said evolution (natural selection) had to be random, but it could be.
3) Micro-evolution is a proven fact (ask your dog), so distinguish it from macro-evolution.
4) Complexity of process and structure is neither proof nor disproof of an intelligence designer.
5) To say a human is an ape is to say you are your cousin Vinny.
jokeyxero
4.8 / 5 (4) Jan 27, 2011
6) The only known divine power is the creation/destruction of energy, all others are exercises in precision and data processing.
7) Humans can do nothing unnatural, all action alters our surroundings by natural processes.
8) Quantum mechanics allows for improbable outcomes, either because it's truly random, the will of a deity, or we're missing information.
9) To believe every letter in your language bible is literal is to admit your ignorance of history and human communication.
10) Just because it hasn't been found doesn't mean it does not exist.
hush1
3.7 / 5 (3) Jan 27, 2011
I was about to post something relevant here, but since there is such a barge of total crap, I cannot expect any serious reader to stay here this long.

@gwrede
Speak! Immune yourself! We're delirious serious! :)

Anyway, regardless of anyone's 'take' on this, I personally find peroxiredoxins astonishing. Markers.
'Trail' markers, no less! For goodness sake, take a hike - any hike! You can't get lost with all the biochemical trail markers on Nature's road map of evolution!

Imagine taking a hike on this trail!!:
(8R,9S,13S,14S,17S)-13-methyl-7,8,9,11,12,13,14,15,16,17-decahydro-6H-cyclopenta[a]phenanthrene-3,17-diol

C18 H24 O2

At the end of this trail is the origin of all primate's hearing!

It's Estrogen - in every human brain.
http:(delete me)//www.physorg.com/news160765483.html

Chill, guys and gals. Take a hike!On Nature's trail!

:)

hush1
3 / 5 (2) Jan 27, 2011
...And if you are lazy, take a shortcut. Find the gene responsible for this specific estrogen in the brain.

Now, I going hiking! :)
Blakut
2.3 / 5 (3) Jan 27, 2011
But wait! We could take some cells, put them in a particle accelerator and boost them as close as possible to the speed of light. Then inject them back into a person and see if they are out of phase! Poor disoriented antibodies...
orsr
5 / 5 (3) Jan 27, 2011
I'm curious if the creatures living in polar regions, where the days and nights are longer have the same clock or if there have been some modifications over the course of evolution.
Ethelred
4.2 / 5 (5) Jan 27, 2011
just how did such a non-random thing get to be at such a central position in the life process?
Common ancestor. Which you deny but this more evidence supporting it.
This is exactly the most vexing question asked by the researcher.
No. They did not find nor even try to find the clock. They just tried to find out if the clock was DNA based in humans, no because it worked with red blood cells, and if it was DNA based in algae, no since it worked in the dark. So it isn't DNA based. A protein seems likely.
A much simpler explanation would be that someone KNEW that it was required for life and PUT it there before life got started.
No. That requires a VERY complex something and common ancestor does not have any such need.

When was the Flood Kevin? And goodbye.

Kevin has consistently ran away when asked that question. Now if everyone asks...

Ethelred
Ethelred
3.2 / 5 (5) Jan 27, 2011
Javinator
It's non-random because a day on Earth is ~24 hours long.

jscroft
The 24-hour day-night cycle has been with us--give or take a few minutes-
Oddly enough it has changed over time. The day is believed to have been 20 hours long after the Moon was formed and has gotten longer as some of the Earth's angular momentum has been transfered to the Moon.

Physmet
particular piece of the evolutionary puzzle has remained unaltered
Altered a bit but for all life. The reason is the same for any strongly conserved bit of bio-chemistry. It is vital for survival. Humans could easily loose this over time as we have external clocks now, but this is too recent to have any observable effect.

jokeyxero
5) To say a human is an ape is to say you are your cousin Vinny.
No. We are apes. Every bit as much as gorillas, chimps, orangs, gibbons and siamangs are apes. It is only arrogance that is involved in the claim we aren't apes.

Ethelred
Ethelred
4.2 / 5 (5) Jan 27, 2011
6) The only known divine power is the creation/destruction of energy, all others are exercises in precision and data processing.
That isn't divine either. Gravity and matter have opposite energy and thus balance out. Creating matter creates an equal but opposite amount of gravitational energy.
7)Humans can do nothing unnatural, all action alters our surroundings by natural processes.
That isn't English. For instance Nylon is NOT natural. Do not mistake non-supernatural for natural in English. There is Supernatural, Natural and stuff humans have messed with. You are using sophomore philosophy to try to overturn a definition rather than change a false perception. If you doubt this just go look up the word. Several have made the same argument and they carefully evaded part of the actual definition.

The correct way to put is Humans can do nothing Supernatural. We do unnatural things all the time.

More
Ethelred
5 / 5 (5) Jan 27, 2011
8) Quantum mechanics allows for improbable outcomes, either because it's truly random, the will of a deity, or we're missing information.
Or because Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle is a real aspect of the Universe we live in.
9) To believe every letter in your language bible is literal is to admit your ignorance of history and human communication.
It is to be blind as the Bible contradicts itself before going two chapters.
10) Just because it hasn't been found doesn't mean it does not exist.
Yes. But it does make it less likely. Whatever it is.

And welcome to Physorg.com.

Where arguing is entertainment for those of us that have strange minds.

Don't take it personally. They, we, don't know you and only people that know you can get personal.

Ethelred
hush1
3 / 5 (2) Jan 27, 2011
I'm curious if the creatures living in polar regions, where the days and nights are longer have the same clock or if there have been some modifications over the course of evolution.


Hibernation is chemical. If that simply changes the 'gear ratio' of the protein's clock?

@orsr
I'll refrain from using the word 'chill'. :)
xamien
5 / 5 (2) Jan 27, 2011
My only objection still remains with the choice of title. ENTIRELY misleading. Like Ethelred says, it wasn't found; they only figured out what it's not.
Javinator
5 / 5 (2) Jan 27, 2011
Oddly enough it has changed over time. The day is believed to have been 20 hours long after the Moon was formed and has gotten longer as some of the Earth's angular momentum has been transfered to the Moon.


True enough. That's why I used the tilde. It says we share the clock with algae that's been around for millions of years, not with million year old algae.

The clocks likely gradually adjust as the length of the day does.
waremi
5 / 5 (1) Jan 27, 2011
I'm curious if the creatures living in polar regions, where the days and nights are longer have the same clock or if there have been some modifications over the course of evolution.


Interesting question. The cycle still runs 24 hours, so I think the "clock" would be the same. What times various metabolic alarm bells are set for on the other hand would shift quite a lot.
DBJ
not rated yet Jan 29, 2011
Whether an enzyme has DNA or not it would certainly have been created by other proteins using DNA. Thus, like everything else in the body, body timing mechanisms are created as a result of genes - however indirectly.
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (1) Jan 29, 2011
Whether an enzyme has DNA or not it would certainly have been created by other proteins using DNA. Thus, like everything else in the body, body timing mechanisms are created as a result of genes - however indirectly.

Enzymes and proteins don't have DNA. They are created by DNA.

DNA works like a blow mold for plastics. A segment has a particular sequence that cellular machines can bond other proteins and monomers to in an arrangement. When the process is complete the newly constructed polymer chain detaches and folds into its final shape where it becomes a protein, enzyme, another stand of DNA, etc.
maxcypher
3 / 5 (2) Jan 29, 2011
Only an idiot doesn't realize that we are part of the Earth, the Earth part of the Solar System... It seems inevitable to me that we would have a deeply ingrained response, as living organisms on the very thin living-surface of this planet, to this ubiquitous fact.
stvnwlsn
5 / 5 (1) Jan 30, 2011
This is probably tied to tidal forces and thus the gravitational pull of the moon, sun or both. We do not yet know the mechanism by which sea creatures anticipate the high / low tide but they obviously do. This does suggest it could be at the cellular level.
MIBO
3 / 5 (4) Jan 30, 2011
Why is it so difficult to beieve that all living things have the same biological timekeeper, after all they also all have DNA, with the same set of nucleic acids, and all have the same set of amino acids, because they evolved from the same origins.
FrankHerbert
0.7 / 5 (48) Jan 31, 2011
So if you find something in common between living things, it proves the creator. AND, when you look at the wide variety of differences in mechanisms used for seeing, hearing, etc., it only proves the creativity of the creator, right? It must be nice to be able to claim any side as proof.

So if you find something in common between living things, it proves the creator. AND, when you look at the wide variety of differences in mechanisms used for seeing, hearing, etc., it only proves the creativity of the creator, right? It must be nice to be able to claim any side as proof.

So if you find something in common between living things, it proves the creator. AND, when you look at the wide variety of differences in mechanisms used for seeing, hearing, etc., it only proves the creativity of the creator, right? It must be nice to be able to claim any side as proof.
FrankHerbert
0.8 / 5 (49) Jan 31, 2011

5) To say a human is an ape is to say you are your cousin Vinny.


Humans are apes. Look it up. You don't get to decide this. Saying humans aren't apes is like saying humans aren't mammals. Are you going to remove us entirely from the animal kingdom as well?
FrankHerbert
0.7 / 5 (48) Jan 31, 2011

When was the Flood Kevin?

When was the Flood Kevin?

When was the Flood Kevin?

When was the Flood Kevin?

When was the Flood Kevin?

When was the Flood Kevin?

When was the Flood Kevin?

When was the Flood Kevin?

When was the Flood Kevin?

When was the Flood Kevin?

When was the Flood Kevin?

When was the Flood Kevin?

When was the Flood Kevin?

When was the Flood Kevin?

When was the Flood Kevin?

When was the Flood Kevin?

When was the Flood Kevin?

When was the Flood Kevin?

When was the Flood Kevin?

When was the Flood Kevin?

When was the Flood Kevin?

When was the Flood Kevin?

When was the Flood Kevin?

When was the Flood Kevin?

When was the Flood Kevin?

When was the Flood Kevin?

When was the Flood Kevin?
FrankHerbert
0.7 / 5 (49) Jan 31, 2011
7)Humans can do nothing unnatural, all action alters our surroundings by natural processes.
That isn't English. For instance Nylon is NOT natural. Do not mistake non-supernatural for natural in English. There is Supernatural, Natural and stuff humans have messed with. You are using sophomore philosophy to try to overturn a definition rather than change a false perception. If you doubt this just go look up the word. Several have made the same argument and they carefully evaded part of the actual definition.

The correct way to put is Humans can do nothing Supernatural. We do unnatural things all the time.

More


Sorry but unnatural is such a loaded term it has become meaningless. What makes human action unnatural other than the fact that you define human action as unnatural? It's a circular (and therefore meaningless) definition. Unnatural and Supernatural are the same thing if your aren't speciest.
Ethelred
not rated yet Jan 31, 2011
What makes human action unnatural other than the fact that you define human action as unnatural?
Not me. English. Look it up in a dictionary. And NO neither I nor the dictionary call human behavior unnatural. Natural, unnatural, supernatural NONE of those are involved when humans are messing with things. Its HUMAN, not unnatural. Man made, man changed, man-made disasters.
It's a circular (and therefore meaningless)
More like it is English. Do YOU call nylon a natural fiber? The reason none of you guys want to answer that is because you are misusing English.

We humans simply call our actions OUR actions as opposed to the actions of other things in the Universe. They are actions WE control. It would be disingenuous, at best, to say that when a building collapsed because someone took a bribe that it was a natural event yet that is what you are demanding we butcher English with.

Ethelred
Ethelred
not rated yet Jan 31, 2011
Oh yes. Kevin already left.

I don't think he is going to answer either of us. It just makes him go away. I would like it IF he did answer but he isn't going to. Since he won't answer, scarpering off is good enough. It shows he simply isn't interested in a real discussion.

Ethelred
FrankHerbert
0.7 / 5 (48) Jan 31, 2011
Do YOU call nylon a natural fiber?

Is it man-made, yes? Is cotton man-made, no. Are they both natural? Yes. A fabric which cannot exist would be unnatural.

Also, the first definition of the first dictionary I clicked on gave this definition "In violation of a natural law."

I understand the point you make but the reason I refuse to use "unnatural" to describe "man-made" is because it is a loaded term. In addition to meaning what I claim it means and what you claim it means, it also means "not in accordance with accepted standards of behavior or right and wrong." Can't we just use clear terms? Unnatural has so much baggage attached to it that it really is meaningless because any given person could misunderstand the intention of the writer. "Man-made" is more clear and doesn't remove us from our place within nature. Conversely, "man-made" doesn't vilify technology in the same way that "unnatural" does.
Ethelred
not rated yet Jan 31, 2011
I refuse to use "unnatural" to describe "man-made" is because it is a loaded term.I
You aren't getting it. I NEVER said you should say UNNATURAL. I made it clear that you should not.
Also, the first definition of the first dictionary I clicked on gave this definition "In violation of a natural law."
You left this one out.
4. Contrived or constrained; artificial:
Can't we just use clear terms?
Yes. Stop using the word natural when man-made is appropriate.
Conversely, "man-made" doesn't vilify technology in the same way that "unnatural" does.
So why are you arguing with me on this? Let me repeat what you are arguing with me on.

Natural, unnatural, supernatural NONE of those are involved when humans are messing with things. Its HUMAN, not unnatural. Man made, man changed, man-made disasters.
Where did I use the term UNNATURAL? I simply said the human actions are not part of nature in the normal sense. Which is not the same as unnatural.

Ethelred
Onceler37
3 / 5 (2) Feb 04, 2011
I agree with Kevin, this could not have been chance. I do not believe the bible though.

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.