You may never hear fruit flies snore, but rest assured that when you're asleep they are too. According to research published in the January 2009 issue of the journal GENETICS (http://www.genetics.org), scientists from the University of Missouri-Kansas City have shown that the circadian rhythms (sleep/wake cycles) of fruit flies and vertebrates are regulated by some of the same "cellular machinery" as that of humans.
This study is significant because the sleep-regulating enzyme analyzed in this research is one of only a few possible drug targets for circadian problems that can lead to seasonal affective disorder (SAD), insomnia, and possibly some cancers.
"Modern society functions 24 hours a day and has produced more circadian problems than our ancestors ever faced," said Jeffrey Price, Ph.D., the senior scientist involved in the research. "I hope our work will allow us to better understand and alleviate these problems."
In addition to showing that this drug target has similar circadian functions in flies and humans, the study confirms that fruit flies are attractive and viable animal models for circadian research because their circadian "machinery" is remarkably similar to that in humans and they can be bred easily and rapidly. Moreover, this study provides compelling evidence that from an evolutionary point of view, circadian rhythms have been virtually unchanged since the days when humans and fruit flies shared a common ancestor.
Price and his colleagues made this discovery using a combination of biochemical and genetic approaches. For the biochemical approaches, normal and mutated versions of the fruit fly's sleep-regulating enzyme (DBT protein kinase) were expressed in insect cells and purified to determine how well each would work. The genetic approaches involved altering fruit flies to have the same sleep-altering gene mutations as vertebrates. The mutant proteins (either the fruit fly or vertebrate protein) were expressed in the fruit fly's circadian neurons and produced very similar effects on the fruit fly's circadian period.
"Every month our journal features articles that illustrate why creatures like fruit flies provide good models for studying human disease, and this article is an especially good example of that," said Mark Johnston, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief of GENETICS. "These findings will help guide development of drugs that safely alter the sleep/wake cycle."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 25 percent of the U.S. population report not getting enough sleep on occasion, while almost 10 percent experience chronic insomnia. Insufficient sleep is associated with several diseases and conditions, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression. It also is responsible for accidents that cause substantial injury and disability each year.
Nonstop Tranport of Cargo in Nanomachines
20.11.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für molekulare Zellbiologie und Genetik
Researchers find social cultures in chimpanzees
20.11.2018 | Universität Leipzig
Max Planck researchers revel the nano-structure of molecular trains and the reason for smooth transport in cellular antennas.
Moving around, sensing the extracellular environment, and signaling to other cells are important for a cell to function properly. Responsible for those tasks...
Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.
Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...
Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.
Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...
Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.
In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...
On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.
19.11.2018 | Event News
09.11.2018 | Event News
06.11.2018 | Event News
20.11.2018 | Life Sciences
20.11.2018 | Life Sciences
20.11.2018 | Physics and Astronomy