Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New Hope For Sleep Disorders: Genetic Switch For Circadian Rhythms Discovered

Date:
December 18, 2007
Source:
University of California - Irvine
Summary:
Researchers have identified the chemical switch that triggers the genetic mechanism regulating our internal body clock. The finding, which uncovers the most specific information about the body's circadian rhythms to date, identifies a precise target for new pharmaceuticals that can treat sleep disorders and a host of related ailments.

Researchers have identified the chemical switch that triggers the genetic mechanism regulating our internal body clock, including sleep patterns.
Credit: iStockphoto/Karen Winton

University of California, Irvine researchers have identified the chemical switch that triggers the genetic mechanism regulating our internal body clock.

The finding, which uncovers the most specific information about the body's circadian rhythms to date, identifies a precise target for new pharmaceuticals that can treat sleep disorders and a host of related ailments.

Paolo Sassone-Corsi, Distinguished Professor and Chair of Pharmacology, found that a single amino acid activates the genes that regulate circadian rhythms. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, and Sassone-Corsi was surprised to find that only a single amino acid activates the body-clock mechanism because of the complex genes involved.

"Because the triggering action is so specific, it appears to be a perfect target for compounds that could regulate this activity," Sassone-Corsi said. "It is always amazing to see how molecular control is so precise in biology."

Circadian rhythms are the body's intrinsic time-tracking system, which anticipates environmental changes and adapts to the appropriate time of day. They regulate a host of body functions, from sleep patterns and hormonal control to metabolism and behavior. About 10 percent to 15 percent of all human genes are regulated by circadian rhythms. Disruption of these rhythms can profoundly influence human health and has been linked to insomnia, depression, heart disease, cancer and neurodegenerative disorders.

The gene CLOCK and its partner BMAL1 trigger circadian rhythms. Sassone-Corsi and his research team discovered last year that CLOCK functions as an enzyme that modifies chromatin, the protein architecture of a cell's DNA.

In this current study, the Sassone-Corsi team learned that a single amino acid in the BMAL1 protein undergoes a modification that triggers the genetic chain of events involved with circadian rhythms.

Sassone-Corsi notes that if this amino-acid modification is impaired in any way, the switching mechanism can be thrown off, which can be the genetic underpinning of circadian-rhythm-related ailments. Currently, Sassone-Corsi is testing antibodies that can target this BMAL1 amino-acid activity.

The study appears in the Dec. 13 issue of Nature.

Jun Hirayama, Saurabh Sahar, Benedetto Grimaldi and Yasukazu Nakahata of UC Irvine, and Teruya Tamaru and Ken Takamatsu of Toho University in Tokyo participated in the study, which received support from the Cancer Research Coordinating Committee of the University of California and the National Institutes of Health.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California - Irvine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of California - Irvine. "New Hope For Sleep Disorders: Genetic Switch For Circadian Rhythms Discovered." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 December 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071212201458.htm>.
University of California - Irvine. (2007, December 18). New Hope For Sleep Disorders: Genetic Switch For Circadian Rhythms Discovered. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071212201458.htm
University of California - Irvine. "New Hope For Sleep Disorders: Genetic Switch For Circadian Rhythms Discovered." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071212201458.htm (accessed April 23, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Big Pharma Braces for M&A Wave

Big Pharma Braces for M&A Wave

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 22, 2014) Big pharma on the move as Novartis boss, Joe Jimenez, tells Reuters about plans to transform his company via an asset exchange with GSK, and Astra Zeneca shares surge on speculation that Pfizer is looking for a takeover. Joanna Partridge reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Study Says Most Crime Not Linked To Mental Illness

Study Says Most Crime Not Linked To Mental Illness

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) A new study finds most crimes committed by people with mental illness are not caused by symptoms of their illness or disorder. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hagel Gets Preview of New High-Tech Projects

Hagel Gets Preview of New High-Tech Projects

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is given hands-on demonstrations Tuesday of some of the newest research from DARPA _ the military's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency program. (April 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Smaller Plates And Cutlery Could Make You Feel Fuller

How Smaller Plates And Cutlery Could Make You Feel Fuller

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) NBC's "Today" conducted an experiment to see if changing the size of plates and utensils affects the amount individuals eat. Video provided by Newsy
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:
from the past week

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