Circadian clocks are thought to have evolved to enable organisms to match their behaviour to specific time slots during the 24 hour day. They are synchronised with our surrounding environment via natural light or temperature cycles.
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. The flies' body-clocks are regulated by two proteins called Period (PER) and Timeless (TIM).
The current model of circadian clocks in flies involves the formation of complexes between these two different clock proteins, known as heterodimers (TIM:PER). Similarly, mammalian circadian clocks (including those in humans) also rely on a heterodimer complex made up of the Period (PER) and Cryptochrome (CRY) proteins.
But now, a new study performed in Professor Stanewsky's lab shows that a complex made of two identical Period proteins, known as a PER:PER homodimer is also crucial for circadian clock function in flies. Writing in the journal PLoS Biology, Stanewsky explains how his team designed a PER protein which could only join with TIM, not with itself.
"We generated a mutation in the PER protein which prevented the formation of the PER:PER dimer, but not that of the PER:TIM heterodimer," he explains. "These mutant flies showed drastically impaired behaviour and molecular clock function, suggesting that PER homodimers are vital for the function of circadian clocks."
The mutant fly PER proteins were designed using structural protein data generated by Dr Eva Wolf at the MPI in Dortmund (Germany). In the same issue of PLoS Biology the Wolf group reports findings indicating that the PER:PER homodimer could also be an important feature of circadian clocks in mammals, including humans.
Sian Halkyard | EurekAlert!
More genes are active in high-performance maize
19.01.2018 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
How plants see light
19.01.2018 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.
We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...
What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...
For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.
Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...
At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.
No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.
Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...
08.01.2018 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
19.01.2018 | Materials Sciences
19.01.2018 | Health and Medicine
19.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy