The surprise finding is an about-face from previous research, said Daniel Forger, assistant professor of math at the University of Michigan. Forger and his collaborators from the University of Utah's Huntsman Cancer Institute have written a paper on the topic, which will appear on in the July 11 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. It will appear the week of July 3 on line, at http://www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.0604511103.
Scientists studied two proteins (one called CKIe and another called PERIOD) that help regulate timing in the body, and looked at how those proteins function in cells, said Forger. One of the proteins causes the other protein to degrade, and the body knows what time it is by how much or how little PERIOD protein is present at any one time in the body. The body's clock is called a circadian rhythm.
Drug makers spend billions to develop drugs to help people with sleep disorders, and other disorders impacted by our biological clocks. Drugs to restore a healthy circadian rhythm by manipulating the levels of PERIOD proteins are currently under development.
One such sleep disorder is called Familial Advanced Sleep Phase Syndrome and this is caused by a gene mutation, Forger said. Patients suffering from the disease routinely wake very early, say at 4 a.m. and must go to bed early, at say 7 p.m. said Forger.
If put in a cave with no light, these people should have a shortened day, Forger said. This means that on our time, they would wake the first day at say, 6 a.m. then at 4 a.m. then at 2 a.m. on subsequent days.
"When they have light and dark cycles in the normal world, they pretty much have to live in a 24-hour day," Forger said. "They were able to adjust but the price they have to pay is their body wakes up early, and they have to go to bed earlier than we do."
"The theory was that the mutation caused (more of the PERIOD protein) so you get a short day so you want to get up very early in the morning," Forger said. But, during testing they found the opposite is true: the mutation actually caused the PERIOD to degrade more quickly so that less is present in the body.
The finding wasn't a complete surprise to Forger, who develops math models of the circadian rhythms. Forger's computer models always said that the opposite of the prevailing thinking should be true---that the PERIOD protein should degrade more quickly when the mutation is present.
"I had this prediction for a year or two," Forger said. "Basically, people said this is ridiculous, you're a mathematician, what do you know…"
Then he met David Virshup, M.D., while giving an invited talk at the University of Utah. Virshup's previous research was on the gene involved in circadian rhythms and its role in cancer development. Their experiments had also suggested that genetic mutation caused the protein to degrade more quickly. Virshup suggested they test Forger's simulation.
The researchers took cell cultures and observed that for those with the mutated gene, the protein only took a couple hours to degrade. For the normal gene, it took 8-10 hours.
Next, Virshup said, his team will begin testing ways to regulate the circadian rhythm in mice, a necessary step before new drugs can be developed.
Laura Bailey | EurekAlert!
Bare bones: Making bones transparent
27.04.2017 | California Institute of Technology
Link Discovered between Immune System, Brain Structure and Memory
26.04.2017 | Universität Basel
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
27.04.2017 | Life Sciences
27.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
27.04.2017 | Earth Sciences