Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New sleep gene discovery wakes up scientists

05.07.2006
Proteins that regulate sleep and biological timing in the body work much differently than previously thought, meaning drug makers must change their approach to making drugs for sleep disorders and depression and other timing-related illnesses.

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!
Further information:
http://www.umich.edu/

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Making fuel out of thick air
08.12.2017 | DOE/Argonne National Laboratory

nachricht ‘Spying’ on the hidden geometry of complex networks through machine intelligence
08.12.2017 | Technische Universität Dresden

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

Im Focus: Virtual Reality for Bacteria

An interdisciplinary group of researchers interfaced individual bacteria with a computer to build a hybrid bio-digital circuit - Study published in Nature Communications

Scientists at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria) have managed to control the behavior of individual bacteria by connecting them to a...

Im Focus: A space-time sensor for light-matter interactions

Physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (run jointly by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics) have developed an attosecond electron microscope that allows them to visualize the dispersion of light in time and space, and observe the motions of electrons in atoms.

The most basic of all physical interactions in nature is that between light and matter. This interaction takes place in attosecond times (i.e. billionths of a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

PhoxTroT: Optical Interconnect Technologies Revolutionized Data Centers and HPC Systems

11.12.2017 | Information Technology

Large-scale battery storage system in field trial

11.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>