Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Biologists identify genes regulating sleeping and feeding

11.06.2010
In the quest to better understand how the brain chooses between competing behaviors necessary for survival, scientists at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and New York University have isolated two genes in the fruit fly Drosophila that work together to mediate the need to sleep and the need to eat. The study, which appears in the online version of Current Biology, offers insights that may be used to understand sleep-and metabolism-related disorders in humans.

"This work determines part of the neural mechanism that mediates a conflict in a hungry fly's brain in deciding whether to seek food or sleep," said Scott Waddell, PhD, associate professor of neurobiology.

"It provides a foundation for understanding how the neural control of these two homeostatic behaviors is integrated in the brain." Previous research has shown that neural systems controlling sleep and feeding in mammals are interconnected: sleep deprivation promotes feeding, whereas starvation suppresses sleep, but little was known about the genes responsible for this interaction. Because the genes that make up Drosophila's internal clock have counterparts with similar functions in mammals, such as those controlling regulation of sleep and metabolism, the study of fruit fly genes can have implications for humans.

After initially screening around 2,000 genes, the researchers identified more than a dozen involved in the interaction between feeding and sleep. From this smaller group, they focused on the Clock and cycle genes, which play a role in both the fruit fly and mammalian circadian, or biological, clock.

To determine the impact of these two genes on the relationship between sleeping and feeding, the researchers examined fruit flies with and without the Clock and cycle genes under food deprivation conditions—the flies were given only a liquid gel containing no nutrients over a 24-hour period and the researchers monitored the flies' movement to determine resulting sleep behavior.

Their results showed a three-to-four-fold reduction in sleep in starved flies missing the Clock and cycle genes compared to flies possessing these genes. The findings therefore suggest that both Clock and cycle help the flies to regulate sleep when they are food deprived.

"This is a significant advance in how we approach behavioral genetics," said Alex Keene, PhD, a post-doctoral researcher in NYU's department of biology and the study's lead author. "We know that the brain is wired to engage in more than one behavior at a time, but less clear is how the brain chooses between these behaviors. These findings are transformative because they show that a gene can control sleep in a context-specific fashion. In the future, we will need to study animals in different environmental conditions in order to fully understand how the brain controls behavior. "

About the University of Massachusetts Medical School

The University of Massachusetts Medical School, one of the fastest growing academic health centers in the country, has built a reputation as a world-class research institution, consistently producing noteworthy advances in clinical and basic research. The Medical School attracts more than $240 million in research funding annually, 80 percent of which comes from federal funding sources. The mission of the Medical School is to advance the health and well-being of the people of the commonwealth and the world through pioneering education, research, public service and health care delivery with its clinical partner, UMass Memorial Health Care.

Jim Fessenden | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.umassmed.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Symbiotic bacteria: from hitchhiker to beetle bodyguard
28.04.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

nachricht Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis
28.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Grenzflächen- und Bioverfahrenstechnik IGB

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>