Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Timing Of Food Consumption Activates Genes In Specific Brain Area

Date:
August 1, 2006
Source:
UT Southwestern Medical Center
Summary:
Giving up your regular late-night snack may be hard, and not just because it's a routine. The habit may genetically change an area of the brain to expect the food at that time, researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have discovered. By training mice to eat at a time when they normally wouldn't, the researchers found that food turns on body-clock genes in a particular area of the brain. Even when the food stopped coming, the genes continued to activate at the expected mealtime.

UT Southwestern researchers led by Dr. Masashi Yanagisawa (left), professor of molecular genetics and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, and including S. Clay Williams, an HHMI research specialist, found in mice that food turns on body-clock genes in a particular area of the brain. Even when the food cycle was interrupted, the genes continued to activate at the expected mealtime.
Credit: Image courtesy of UT Southwestern Medical Center

Giving up your regular late-night snack may be hard, and not just because it’s a routine. The habit may genetically change an area of the brain to expect the food at that time, researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have discovered.

Related Articles


By training mice to eat at a time when they normally wouldn’t, the researchers found that food turns on body-clock genes in a particular area of the brain. Even when the food stopped coming, the genes continued to activate at the expected mealtime.

“This might be an entrance to the whole mysterious arena of how metabolic conditions in an animal can synchronize themselves with a body clock,” said Dr. Masashi Yanagisawa, professor of molecular genetics and senior author of the study.

The UT Southwestern researchers report their findings in the Aug. 8 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The daily ups-and-downs of waking, eating and other bodily processes are known as circadian rhythms, which are regulated by many internal and external forces. One class of genes involved in these cycles is known as Period or Per genes.

When food is freely available, the strongest controlling force is light, which sets a body’s sleep/wake cycle, among other functions. Light acts on an area in the brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus, or SCN.

But because destroying the SCN doesn’t affect the body clock that paces feeding behavior, the circadian pacemaker for feeding must be somewhere else, Dr. Yanagisawa said.

To find the answer, his group did a simple but labor-intensive experiment. The scientists set the mice on a regular feeding schedule, then examined their brain tissue to find where Per genes were turned on in sync with feeding times.

The researchers put the mice on a 12-hour light/dark cycle, and provided food for four hours in the middle of the light portion.

Because mice normally feed at night, this pattern is similar to humans eating at inappropriate times. Dysfunctional eating patterns play a role in human obesity, particularly in the nocturnal eating often seen in obese people, the researchers note.

The mice soon fell into a pattern of searching for food two hours before each feeding time. They also flipped their normal day/night behavior, ignoring the natural cue that day is their usual time to sleep.

After several days, the researchers found that the daily activation cycle of Per genes in the SCN was not affected by the abnormal feeding pattern.

However, in a few different areas of the brain, particularly a center called the dorsomedial hypothamalic nucleus or DMH, the Per genes turned on strongly in sync with feeding time after seven days.

When the mice subsequently went two days without food, the genes continued to turn on in sync with the expected feeding time.

“They started to show the same pattern of anticipatory behaviors several hours before the previously scheduled time of feeding,” said Dr. Yanagisawa, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. “So somewhere in the body, they clearly remembered this time of day.”

Upcoming research will focus on how the centers that control various body clocks communicate with each other, Dr. Yanagisawa said.

Other UT Southwestern researchers involved in the study were: Dr. Michihiro Mieda, former postdoctoral fellow at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and currently of Tokyo Medical and Dental University; S. Clay Williams, an HHMI research specialist; and Dr. James Richardson, professor of pathology. Dr. Kohichi Tanaka of Tokyo Medical and Dental University also participated.

The work was supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Human Frontier Science Program, the Keck Foundation, the Perot Family Foundation, the Japan Science and Technology Agency, the Narishige Kagaku Foundation, the Ichiro Kanehara Foundation and the Suzuken Memorial Foundation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by UT Southwestern Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

UT Southwestern Medical Center. "Timing Of Food Consumption Activates Genes In Specific Brain Area." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 August 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/08/060801053315.htm>.
UT Southwestern Medical Center. (2006, August 1). Timing Of Food Consumption Activates Genes In Specific Brain Area. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/08/060801053315.htm
UT Southwestern Medical Center. "Timing Of Food Consumption Activates Genes In Specific Brain Area." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/08/060801053315.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) Polish scientists isolate bacteria from earthworm intestines which they say may be used in antibiotics and cancer treatments. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) A team of scientists led by Danish chemist Jorn Christensen says they have isolated two chemical compounds within an existing antipsychotic medication that could be used to help a range of failing antibiotics work against killer bacterial infections, such as Tuberculosis. Jim Drury went to meet him. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 19, 2014) Millions of monarch butterflies begin to descend onto Mexico as part of their annual migration south. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins