Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

UNC scientists pinpoint link between light signal and circadian rhythms

30.12.2010
In a new paper published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Aziz Sancar, MD, PhD, the Sarah Graham Kenan Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics in the UNC School of Medicine, and his colleagues have taken an important step in understanding the underlying molecular signals that influence a broad array of biological processes ranging from the sleep-wake cycle to cancer growth and development.

Scientists who work in this field, known as chronobiology, have identified the genes that direct circadian rhythms in people, mice, fruit flies, fungi and several other organisms. However, the mechanisms by which those genes interact with light in the organism's environment have not been well understood.

Circadian rhythms are the physical, mental and behavioral changes that follow the earth's 24 hour cycle, responding primarily to light and darkness in an organism's environment.

About 15 years ago, Sancar discovered a human protein called cryptochrome which acts as a core component of the molecular clock in mammals. The protein is also found in fruit flies, other insects, and plants.

"Cryptochrome 'resets' the circadian clock, but we were not sure how it worked," said Sancar, who is also a member of UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Using fruit flies (Drosophilia melanogaster), the team purified cryptochrome and developed a biochemical test that shows when and how the protein transmits signals.

"We can now detect the protein at work. When we expose cryptochrome to blue light in fruit flies, a millisecond of light exposure has a half-life during which we can examine the mechanism in the laboratory," said Sancar. "We can follow the molecular signals after light exposure and have a reliable model to test various hypotheses about how light interacts with the circadian systems we know are so important to biological processes."

The research may be useful to scientists who study the circadian clock's relationship to sleep disorders, jet lag, cancer, bipolar disorder, depression and other diseases.

Sancar's research collaborators include Nuri Ozturk, PhD, Christopher Selby, PhD, and Yunus Annayev, BSc, of UNC-Chapel Hill's Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics and Donping Zhong, PhD from the Ohio State University.

The research was supported by the US National Institutes of Health.

Ellen de Graffenreid | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.unc.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Closing the carbon loop
08.12.2016 | University of Pittsburgh

nachricht Newly discovered bacteria-binding protein in the intestine
08.12.2016 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

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,...

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

Closing the carbon loop

08.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Applicability of dynamic facilitation theory to binary hard disk systems

08.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

Scientists track chemical and structural evolution of catalytic nanoparticles in 3-D

08.12.2016 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>