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More Evidence Mammals, Fruit Flies Share Make-up On Function Of Biological Clocks

Date:
March 7, 2006
Source:
New York University
Summary:
A new study offers additional evidence that mammals and fruit flies share a common genetic makeup that determines the function of their internal biological clocks. The study appears in the latest issue of Current Biology.

A study by researchers at New York University and the University of London offers additional evidence that mammals and fruit flies share a common genetic makeup that determines the function of their internal biological clocks. The study appears in the latest issue of Current Biology. The research team consisted of post-doctoral researcher Ben Collins, Esteban Mazzoni, a graduate student, and Assistant Professor Justin Blau of NYU's Department of Biology and Professor Ralf Stanewsky of the University of London.

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Drosophila fruit flies are commonly used for research on biological, or circadian, clocks because of the relative ease of finding mutants with non-24-hour rhythms and then identifying the genes underlying the altered behavior. These studies in fruit flies have allowed the identification of similar "clock genes" in mammals, which function in a similar manner in mammals as they do in a fly's clock. However, prior to this study, biologists had concluded that the role of one protein--Cryptochrome (Cry)--was quite different between flies and mammals. In fruit flies, Cry is a circadian photoreceptor, which helps light reset the biological clock with changing seasons, or in jet lag-style experiments (in which light is manipulated to mimic the experience of traveling over multiple time zones) in the lab. In mammals, however, Cry assists in the 24-hour rhythmic expression of clock genes and has nothing to do with re-setting the clock.

The researchers sought to determine additional roles for Cry in fruit flies by testing the rhythmic expression of clock genes in flies with either a mutant version of Cry, or with Cry produced at artificially high levels. In both cases, they found that the clock had stopped -- with high levels of clock gene expression when Cry was mutated, and low levels when Cry was over-produced. These results indicated that Cry normally inhibits clock gene expression in many clock cells -- just as it does in the mammalian clock.

"In addition to finding a new function for Cryptochrome, the results reinforce that notion that fruit flies provide an excellent model for understanding the human biological clock that drives sleep/wake cycles and many other processes that contribute to our overall health," said Blau.

The research was supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by New York University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

New York University. "More Evidence Mammals, Fruit Flies Share Make-up On Function Of Biological Clocks." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 March 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/03/060306214936.htm>.
New York University. (2006, March 7). More Evidence Mammals, Fruit Flies Share Make-up On Function Of Biological Clocks. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/03/060306214936.htm
New York University. "More Evidence Mammals, Fruit Flies Share Make-up On Function Of Biological Clocks." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/03/060306214936.htm (accessed December 20, 2014).

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