Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Hebrew University, US scientists find clue to mystery of how biological clock operates on 24-hour cycle

25.11.2009
How does our biological system know that it is supposed to operate on a 24-hour cycle? Scientists at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have discovered that a tiny molecule holds the clue to the mystery.

Human as well as most living organisms on earth possess circadian a (24-hour) life rhythm. This rhythm is generated from an internal clock that is located in the brain and regulates many bodily functions, including the sleep-wake cycle and eating.

Although the evidence for their existence is obvious and they have been studied for more than 150 years, only recently the mechanisms that generate these rhythms have begun to be unraveled.

A researcher of the Alexander Silberman Institute of Life Sciences at the Hebrew University, Dr. Sebastian Kadener, and one of his students, Uri Weissbein, are among a collaborative group of researchers that have now found that tiny molecules known as miRNAs are central constituents of the circadian clock. Their discovery holds wide-ranging implications for future therapeutic treatment to deal with sleep deprivation and other common disorders connected with the daily life cycle.

The sleep-wake cycle, the most characterized manifestation of the circadian clock, is generated thanks to specialized neurons found both in humans and fruitflies. (The mechanism governing the circadian clock in fruitflies is almost identical to the one mammals -- and humans -- have.)

These neurons have the striking capability of counting time very accurately via a complex process of gene activation and repression that result in a tightly controlled process that takes exactly 24 hours.

The new research by Dr. Kadener and his colleagues, published in an article in the journal Genes and Development (and that was highlighted in Nature Review Neuroscience), has shown that a new mode of regulation has a pivotal importance for the ability of our internal clock to accurately count those 24 hours each day. Specifically, they have shown that the very tiny miRNA molecules are necessary for the circadian rhythms to function.

MiRNAs have recently been discovered and have been shown to be involved in different processes in animals. By the use of new state-of-the-art techniques (most of them developed in the present study) the authors demonstrate that one specific miRNA (called bantam) recognizes and regulates the translation of the gene clock.

This constitutes the first example of a defined miRNA-gene regulation in the central clock. Perhaps even more importantly, the researchers were among the first to prove that there is a clear role of miRNA regulation in the brain in general and behavior in particular.

In addition to Kadener and Weissman, others participating in the research were Prof. Michael Rosbash, Dr. Jerome Menet, Dr. Pipat Nawathean, Prof. Sacha Nelson and Dr. Ken Sugino from Brandeis University in the US and Prof. Phil Zamore, Dr. Michael Horwich and Dr. Vasia Vagin from the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Jerry Barach | Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Further information:
http://www.huji.ac.il

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Multi-institutional collaboration uncovers how molecular machines assemble
02.12.2016 | Salk Institute

nachricht Fertilized egg cells trigger and monitor loss of sperm’s epigenetic memory
02.12.2016 | IMBA - Institut für Molekulare Biotechnologie der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften GmbH

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

Im Focus: Fraunhofer ISE Develops Highly Compact, High Frequency DC/DC Converter for Aviation

The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

UTSA study describes new minimally invasive device to treat cancer and other illnesses

02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering

Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product

02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?

02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>