Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Two-way Communication Between Common Biological Pathways And Body's Daily Clock

Date:
September 21, 2009
Source:
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Summary:
While scientists have known for several years that our body's internal clock helps regulate many biological processes, researchers have found that the reverse is also true: Many common biological processes -- including insulin metabolism -- regulate the clock, according to a new study. The new data suggests that someday physicians may be able to use small molecules that inhibit or stimulate these biological processes in order to influence a person's clock.

The Expanded Clock Gene Network. Clock components in the core feedback loop (blue), as well as other components known to regulate the clock (light blue), along with interacting genes (green, red, purple). Common interacting proteins are depicted in pink.
Credit: John Hogenesch, PhD, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine; Cell

While scientists have known for several years that our body's internal clock helps regulate many biological processes, researchers have found that the reverse is also true: Many common biological processes – including insulin metabolism – regulate the clock, according to a new study by investigators at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation, and the University of California at San Diego.

Related Articles


The new data, published online in Cell this week, suggest that someday physicians may be able to use small molecules that inhibit or stimulate these biological processes in order to influence a person's clock when it gets out of sync due to jetlag or shift work, and to devise new ways to treat metabolic disorders that are intimately tied to the body's daily cycles.

Using a genome-wide screen, the investigators found that reducing expression of any one of hundreds of genes could substantially alter the length of the circadian cycle, which controls the 24-hour sleep/wake cycle. The clock-influencing genes are involved in a large number of biological processes, but the researchers found that components of insulin metabolism, folate metabolism, and the cell cycle were overrepresented in the gene screen, suggesting that these pathways are closely linked to the clock.

"Clock biologists all appreciated that the communication went one direction – from the clock to biological processes – but I don't think anyone anticipated that there would be this level of integration with cell metabolism and the cell cycle, or all these other pathways impinging on clock function," says John Hogenesch, PhD, Associate Professor of Pharmacology in the Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics at Penn. Hogenesch is a co-senior author on the paper with Steve Kay, Dean of the Division of Biological Sciences at UCSD. "There were some hints this might occur for some genes, but not to this extent."

The idea that biological processes might have feedback systems with the circadian clock makes some sense to Hogenesch. For example, he points to the influence of insulin metabolism, saying "If your energy requirements aren't being met, instead of spending a lot of energy on a cell division, a cell might necessarily delay it. It is the same strategy we use when we are not ready to do something, we delay. Maybe procrastination is an evolutionary cellular strategy enabled by the clock to confront situations where resources are limited."

While biologists regularly draw molecular pathways as if they are distinct from one another, they know the reality is much different. "This is a good example showing how dozens of pathways are functionally interconnected with clock function and vice versa," Hogenesch says. "It is important to remember that when you start to change function with a drug, for example, that the perturbation can have unanticipated consequence. Sometimes these consequences are good, but sometimes not."

Hogenesch stresses that while the new experiments show a feedback loop between biological processes and the clock in individual cells in culture, it is not yet clear how feedback systems work in the whole organism. Currently the team is working on biochemical and genetic experiments to answer that question.

In addition to publishing the data in the journal, the investigators have displayed the data on the BioGPS open-access searchable database (http://biogps.gnf.org). The circadian genome-wide screen data can be found at http://biogps.gnf.org/circadian/ and are linked to expression data from Penn, gene function data at Wikipedia and the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), as well as gene structure information from the University of California at Santa Cruz.

Hogenesch, who helped develop the website when he worked at the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation in San Diego, said the site relies on web 2.0 technology and is very simple to use and customize. He and his colleagues built the site because many researchers want to do large database searches but are not computer scientists or informatics specialists. "Andy Su [of Novartis] and I decided to develop a site that even my mom could use, and pitched at the 90% of biologists who want to use something but don't have the skill sets. We decided to build something that would allow them to take advantage of large datasets such as this one."

Co-first authors on the paper are Eric E. Zhang and Tsuyoshi Hirota of the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation, and UCSD, and Andrew C. Liu, of the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation and the University of Memphis, Tenn. Other authors on the paper include Loren J. Miraglia, Genevieve Welch, Xianzhong Liu, Jon W. Huss III, Jeff Janes, and Andrew I. Su of the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation, and Pagkapol Y. Pongsawakul, Ann Atwood, and Steve A. Kay of UCSD.

This research was funded by Silvio O. Conte Center and the National Institute of Mental Health.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. "Two-way Communication Between Common Biological Pathways And Body's Daily Clock." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 September 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090917131546.htm>.
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. (2009, September 21). Two-way Communication Between Common Biological Pathways And Body's Daily Clock. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090917131546.htm
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. "Two-way Communication Between Common Biological Pathways And Body's Daily Clock." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090917131546.htm (accessed December 20, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) It's hard to resist those delicious but fattening carbs we all crave during the winter months, but there are some ways to stay satisfied without consuming the extra calories. Vanessa Freeman (@VanessaFreeTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) More than 100 motorcyclists hit the road to spread awareness messages about Ebola. Nearly 7,000 people have now died from the virus, almost all of them in west Africa, according to the World Health Organization. Video provided by AFP
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
Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) A double-amputee makes history by becoming the first person to wear and operate two prosthetic arms using only his mind. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
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


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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