Discovery of possible basis for treating circadian clock disorders and associated metabolic problems
Structural biologists have made important progress towards better understanding the functioning of the circadian clock. The circadian or inner clock coordinates the sleep-wake rhythm and many other body processes that regulate, for example, metabolism, blood pressure, and the immune system.
A research team led by Professor Eva Wolf, recently appointed Professor of Structural Biology at the Institute of General Botany of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) and Adjunct Director at the Institute of Molecular Biology (IMB), has for the first time identified the molecular structure of a protein complex that plays an important role in regulating the circadian rhythm. At the same time, they also made a surprising discovery: The protein complex contains a zinc ion, which apparently stabilizes it. These results could form the basis for new strategies for treating illnesses that are the result of circadian clock dysfunction.
"Our circadian clock controls many important physiological functions," explained Professor Eva Wolf. If the natural rhythm is disrupted, as for example in the case of people on shift work, the likelihood of developing metabolic disorders, diabetes, or cancer is significantly increased. The fundamental research conducted in the Wolf group is focused on obtaining insight into the molecular mechanisms of the circadian clock.. Among the currently investigated topics are the cryptochromes, a class of proteins associated with the circadian clock in mammals. In addition to regulating circadian rhythm, these also control glucose homeostasis and blood sugar levels. Together with another clock protein called period they form a complex, the structure of which has just been determined by Wolf's team.
By x-ray analysis of the cryptochrome-period complex structure, the researchers were able to observe atomic details of the interaction between the cryptochrome and period proteins and also discovered that the zinc ion mediates this interaction. "The metal ion stabilizes the complex and also appears to influence an adjacent disulfide bond," clarified Wolf. Cell biological studies conducted in the collaborating group of Prof. Dr. Achim Kramer at the Charite Berlin showed that this also is the case in human cells.”
The researchers had not expected to detect a disulfide bond in the presence of the redox state that prevails in the cytoplasm and the cell nucleus. Its existence is probably regulated by the zinc ion and the disulfide bond itself is perhaps a sensor that indicates the metabolic status of the cell.
"We assume that the formation of this cryptochrome-period protein complex provides a mechanism by which the circadian clock interacts with the metabolism, while the zinc ion and the disulfide bond play an important role in regulating the stability of the complex," summarized Wolf. The now Mainz-based biologist hopes that further findings about the basic functioning of the cryptochrome-period complex and her aim of determining the interaction patterns of further clock proteins may help in the development of future medical treatments.
About the Institute for Molecular Biology gGmbH
The Institute of Molecular Biology gGmbH (IMB) is a center of excellence in the life sciences that was established in 2011. Research at IMB concentrates on three cutting-edge areas: epigenetics, developmental biology, and DNA repair. The institute is a prime example of a successful collaboration between public authorities and a private foundation. The Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation has dedicated EUR 100 million for a period of 10 years to cover the operating costs for research at IMB, while the state of Rhineland-Palatinate provided approximately EUR 50 million for the construction of a state-of-the-art building.
For more information about IMB, please visit www.imb.de
About the Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation
The Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation is an independent, non-profit organization committed to the promotion of the medical, biological, chemical, and pharmaceutical sciences. It was established in 1977 by Hubertus Liebrecht (1931-1991), a member of the shareholder family of the company Boehringer Ingelheim. Through its PLUS 3 Perspectives Program and Exploration Grants, the foundation supports independent group leaders; it also endows the internationally renowned Heinrich Wieland Prize as well as awards for up-and-coming scientists. The foundation has granted EUR 100 million over a period of ten years to finance the scientific activities of the Institute of Molecular Biology (IMB).
For more information about the foundation and its programs, please visit www.boehringer-ingelheim-stiftung.de
Three-dimensional structure of the mouse cryptochrome-period clock protein complex. The complex is stabilized by a zinc atom coordinated by both proteins.
source: Eva Wolf, JGU
Ira Schmalen et al.
Interaction of Circadian Clock Proteins CRY1 and PER2 Is Modulated by Zinc Binding and Disulfide Bond Formation
Cell 157:5, pp 1203-1215, 22 May 2014
Professor Dr. Eva Wolf
Institute of General Botany / Institute of Molecular Biology (IMB)
Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU)
D 55099 Mainz, GERMANY
phone +49 6131 39-21701
fax +49 6131 39-27850
Petra Giegerich | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Fish Oil-Diet Benefits May be Mediated by Gut Microbes
28.08.2015 | University of Gothenburg
Bio-fabrication of Artificial Blood Vessels with Laser Light
28.08.2015 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Lasertechnik ILT
A University of Oklahoma astrophysicist and his Chinese collaborator have found two supermassive black holes in Markarian 231, the nearest quasar to Earth, using observations from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope.
The discovery of two supermassive black holes--one larger one and a second, smaller one--are evidence of a binary black hole and suggests that supermassive...
A team of European researchers have developed a model to simulate the impact of tsunamis generated by earthquakes and applied it to the Eastern Mediterranean. The results show how tsunami waves could hit and inundate coastal areas in southern Italy and Greece. The study is published today (27 August) in Ocean Science, an open access journal of the European Geosciences Union (EGU).
Though not as frequent as in the Pacific and Indian oceans, tsunamis also occur in the Mediterranean, mainly due to earthquakes generated when the African...
In mountainous regions earthquakes often cause strong landslides, which can be exacerbated by heavy rain. However, after an initial increase, the frequency of these mass wasting events, often enormous and dangerous, declines, in fact independently of meteorological events and aftershocks.
These new findings are presented by a German-Franco-Japanese team of geoscientists in the current issue of the journal Geology, under the lead of the GFZ...
Bacteria do not cease to amaze us with their survival strategies. A research team from the University of Basel's Biozentrum has now discovered how bacteria enter a sleep mode using a so-called FIC toxin. In the current issue of “Cell Reports”, the scientists describe the mechanism of action and also explain why their discovery provides new insights into the evolution of pathogens.
For many poisons there are antidotes which neutralize their toxic effect. Toxin-antitoxin systems in bacteria work in a similar manner: As long as a cell...
It comes when called, bringing care utensils with it and recording how they are used: Fraunhofer IPA is developing an intelligent care cart that provides care staff with physical and informational support in their day-to-day work. The scientists at Fraunhofer IPA have now completed a first prototype. In doing so, they are continuing in their efforts to improve working conditions in the care sector and are developing solutions designed to address the challenges of demographic change.
Technical assistance systems can improve the difficult working conditions in residential nursing homes and hospitals by helping the staff in their work and...
20.08.2015 | Event News
20.08.2015 | Event News
19.08.2015 | Event News
28.08.2015 | Physics and Astronomy
28.08.2015 | Health and Medicine
28.08.2015 | Life Sciences