Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Snoozing worms help Penn researchers explain the evolution of sleep

14.01.2008
The roundworm C. elegans, a staple of laboratory research, may be key in unlocking one of the central biological mysteries: why we sleep.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine report in this week’s advanced online edition of Nature that the round worm has a sleep-like state, joining most of the animal kingdom in displaying this physiology. This research has implications for explaining the evolution and purpose of sleep and sleep-like states in animals.

In addition, genetic work associated with the study provides new prospects for the use of C. elegans to identify sleep-regulatory genes and drug targets for sleep disorders.

First author David M. Raizen, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Neurology, in collaboration with other researchers at the Penn Center for Sleep, showed that there is a period of behavioral quiescence during the worm’s development called lethargus that has sleep-like properties. “Just as humans are less responsive during sleep, so is the worm during lethargus,” explains Raizen. “And, just as humans fall asleep faster and sleep deeper following sleep deprivation, so does the worm.”

... more about:
»Raizen »elegans »lethargus »nervous system »synaptic

By demonstrating that worms sleep, Raizen and colleagues have not only demonstrated the ubiquity of sleep in nature, but also propose a compelling hypothesis for the purpose for sleep.

Because the time of lethargus coincides with a time in the round worms’ life cycle when synaptic changes occur in the nervous system, they propose that sleep is a state required for nervous system plasticity. In other words, in order for the nervous system to grow and change, there must be down time of active behavior. Other researchers at Penn have shown that, in mammals, synaptic changes occur during sleep and that deprivation of sleep results in a disruption of these synaptic changes.

In addition, the research team used C. elegans as a model system to identify a gene that regulates sleep. This gene, which encodes a protein kinase and is regulated by a small molecule called cyclic GMP, has been previously studied but not suspected to play a role in sleep regulation. The findings suggest a potential role for this gene in regulating human sleep and may provide an avenue for developing new drugs for sleep disorders.

“It opens up an entire new line of inquiry into the functions of sleep,” notes Penn Center for Sleep Director and co-author Allan I. Pack, MB, Chb, PhD.

Karen Kreeger | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.pennhelath.com/news

Further reports about: Raizen elegans lethargus nervous system synaptic

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht New photocatalyst speeds up the conversion of carbon dioxide into chemical resources
29.05.2017 | DGIST (Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology)

nachricht Copper hydroxide nanoparticles provide protection against toxic oxygen radicals in cigarette smoke
29.05.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Strathclyde-led research develops world's highest gain high-power laser amplifier

The world's highest gain high power laser amplifier - by many orders of magnitude - has been developed in research led at the University of Strathclyde.

The researchers demonstrated the feasibility of using plasma to amplify short laser pulses of picojoule-level energy up to 100 millijoules, which is a 'gain'...

Im Focus: Can the immune system be boosted against Staphylococcus aureus by delivery of messenger RNA?

Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.

Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New insights into the ancestors of all complex life

29.05.2017 | Earth Sciences

New photocatalyst speeds up the conversion of carbon dioxide into chemical resources

29.05.2017 | Life Sciences

NASA's SDO sees partial eclipse in space

29.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>