In findings published in this week's issue of Current Biology, researchers at the University of Surrey's Sleep Research Centre report their discovery that a genetic difference in the body clock gene PERIOD3 makes some people particularly sensitive to the effects of sleep deprivation.
There are two variants of this gene in humans, which produce either a long or short protein variant. The multidisciplinary research team, consisting of biological scientists and psychologists, compared how individuals with just the longer variant and those with just the shorter one coped with being kept awake for two days and the intervening night. According to Dr Antoine Viola, lead author on the research paper: "The differences between the individuals were striking. Some participants were experiencing no problems staying awake and others were really struggling”.
The results were most pronounced during the early hours of the morning (between 4 and 8 am). Individuals with the longer variant of the gene performed very poorly on tests for attention and working memory. Cognitive Psychologist Professor John Groeger, says: “the early morning performance problems of those with the long variant have important implications for safety and efficiency at work“. Research team leader, Professor Derk-Jan Dijk, explains: "This is exactly the time of night when shift workers struggle to stay awake and many sleepiness-related accidents occur.
This experiment was conducted in the laboratory and whether the PERIOD3 gene also predicts individual differences in the tolerance to night shift work remains to be demonstrated”. Another member of the team, Dr Malcolm von Schantz, adds: "Approximately 10% of the UK population carries just the longer form of this gene. The possibility that they may be genetically predisposed to perform poorly late at night is a cause for concern".
An additional finding was that the effects of this gene on performance may be mediated by its effects on sleep. When the volunteers were allowed to sleep those with just the longer form of the gene spent about 50% more of their time in slow-wave sleep, the deepest form of sleep. Slow-wave sleep is a marker of sleep need, and it is known that carrying a sleep debt makes it very difficult to stay awake and perform at night.
Dr Simon Archer, who previously discovered that variation in this gene is associated with morning and evening preference, concludes: "We know that variation in PERIOD3 is linked to whether an individual is a “lark” or an “owl”, so we expected that this could have an influence on body clock function. What we weren't expecting was such a dramatic impact on sleep and performance". Professor Debra Skene, adds: “The possible role of clock genes in human sleep physiology opens up an exciting new avenue of research”.
The research was supported by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), and conducted at the University of Surrey's Clinical Research Centre.
Stuart Miller | alfa
Climate Impact Research in Hannover: Small Plants against Large Waves
17.08.2018 | Leibniz Universität Hannover
First transcription atlas of all wheat genes expands prospects for research and cultivation
17.08.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Pflanzengenetik und Kulturpflanzenforschung
New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference
Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...
Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...
Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.
When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...
Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.
Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....
Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.
Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...
17.08.2018 | Event News
08.08.2018 | Event News
27.07.2018 | Event News
17.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
17.08.2018 | Information Technology
17.08.2018 | Life Sciences