Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Not Just Bleach: Hydrogen Peroxide May Tell Time For Living Cells

Date:
November 4, 2009
Source:
University of Southern California
Summary:
The common household chemical hydrogen peroxide, also made naturally by living cells, appears to be involved in regulation of circadian rhythms, according to a new study.

The common household chemical hydrogen peroxide, also made naturally by living cells, appears to be involved in regulation of circadian rhythms, according to a new study.
Credit: iStockphoto

If a circadian rhythm is like an orchestra -- the united expression of the rhythms of millions of cells -- a common chemical may serve as the conductor, or at least as the baton.

The chemical is hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), the active ingredient in color safe bleach. Produced in all animal cells, hydrogen peroxide may act as a signal for the active and resting phases of living things, new research by USC biologists suggests.

A study published in the journal PLoS ONE shows that hydrogen peroxide given to fruit flies has dramatic effects on their daily rhythms and activity levels.

"H2O2 might be functioning as a systemic signal by which rhythms are regulated within cells and between cells," said lead author John Tower, associate professor in molecular and computational biology at USC College.

Most people are familiar with the concept of a circadian rhythm that governs sleeping and waking. But that is not the only circadian rhythm in the body.

Many organs and tissues within the body have their own independent circadian rhythms, and they also interact to coordinate their rhythms.

Tower's study suggests a link between metabolism -- the production of energy by mitochondria, often described as the energy factories inside cells -- and an animal's daily rhythms.

Mitochondria produce hydrogen peroxide as a by-product of oxygen combustion, making the chemical a candidate signal molecule.

"This is a logical way to connect rhythms to metabolism," Tower said.

"We know a lot about how circadian rhythms are regulated within certain cells. However, we have very little information on what signals coordinate circadian rhythms and how these rhythms are linked between metabolism and behavior."

For the rhythms of even two cells to agree, some sort of signal has to pass between them.

Tower's research group set out to find the signal by probing the action of an enzyme in mitochondria that converts toxic by-products of the body's combustion process into hydrogen peroxide, itself a harmful but less toxic substance which other defenses later break down further.

Tower and his team had noticed that overexpression of the enzyme, known as superoxide dismutase (SOD), boosted the activity level of fruit flies and even increased the life span of certain genetically engineered strains.

Tower suspected that hydrogen peroxide was the key ingredient in SOD's action.

"Hydrogen peroxide is a great candidate for a signaling molecule that would be involved in rhythms and behaviors. It's the most stable and diffusible of the reactive oxygen species (by-products of combustion), but no one had demonstrated a role for it."

As a test, Tower's group administered hydrogen peroxide directly to fruit flies through feeding and injection.

The researchers observed similar effects from the direct administration of hydrogen peroxide and the over-expression of the SOD enzyme.

Both strategies increased the activity levels of adult flies. Long-term direct treatment with hydrogen peroxide suppressed daily rhythms, while SOD over-expression altered those rhythms.

Tower explained that he had not expected identical results from direct treatment versus genetic over-expression.

"I think it's just a little too crude of an intervention, to feed them or inject them with the drug," he said, because those effects will not be rhythmic, whereas production of hydrogen peroxide by the mitochondria and by SOD is expected to be rhythmic and to correspond to the rhythm of metabolism.

Still, the similarities in the flies' reactions to direct treatment and to SOD over-expression suggested to the researchers that hydrogen peroxide is the crucial chemical.

"It's a very exciting result for us that our data now start to point to hydrogen peroxide as perhaps being a relevant signaling molecule for coupling metabolism to behaviors and rhythms in the animal," Tower said.

Hydrogen peroxide would govern rhythms inside each cell as well as between cells, Tower added.

Every cell alternates between a metabolic phase -- in which it burns oxygen to make energy -- and a detoxification phase in which the cell breaks down the harmful by-products of combustion.

Those rhythms must be coupled with the energy-producing activity of the mitochondria.

"Because hydrogen peroxide is produced by mitochondria as a product of metabolism, it's a great candidate for a relevant signal that might be modulating these cellular rhythms," Tower said.

Tower's group was able to correlate fly activity and hydrogen peroxide concentration precisely through a unique three-dimensional movement tracking system developed by first author and doctoral student Dhruv Grover.

Doctoral students Daniel Ford, Nicholas Hoe and Aysen Erdem and undergraduate Christopher Brown also contributed to the study. Simon Tavare, professor of mathematics and molecular and computational biology at USC College, designed and supervised the statistical analyses.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Dhruv Grover, Daniel Ford, Christopher Brown, Nicholas Hoe, Aysen Erdem, Simon Tavarι, John Tower. Hydrogen Peroxide Stimulates Activity and Alters Behavior in Drosophila melanogaster. PLoS ONE, 2009; 4 (10): e7580 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0007580

Cite This Page:

University of Southern California. "Not Just Bleach: Hydrogen Peroxide May Tell Time For Living Cells." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 November 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091103145607.htm>.
University of Southern California. (2009, November 4). Not Just Bleach: Hydrogen Peroxide May Tell Time For Living Cells. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091103145607.htm
University of Southern California. "Not Just Bleach: Hydrogen Peroxide May Tell Time For Living Cells." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091103145607.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

AP (July 24, 2014) — Mobile phone companies and communities across the country are going to new lengths to disguise those unsightly cellphone towers. From a church bell tower to a flagpole, even a pencil, some towers are trying to make a point. (July 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Algonquin Power Goes Activist on Its Target Gas Natural

Algonquin Power Goes Activist on Its Target Gas Natural

TheStreet (July 23, 2014) — When The Deal's Amanda Levin exclusively reported that Gas Natural had been talking to potential suitors, the Ohio company responded with a flat denial, claiming its board had not talked to anyone about a possible sale. Lo and behold, Canadian utility Algonquin Power and Utilities not only had approached the company, but it did it three times. Its last offer was for $13 per share as Gas Natural's was trading at a 60-day moving average of about $12.50 per share. Now Algonquin, which has a 4.9% stake in Gas Natural, has taken its case to shareholders, calling on them to back its proposals or, possibly, a change in the target's board. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com
Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-Free Travel

Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-Free Travel

AP (July 23, 2014) — 'Ray' the robotic parking valet at Dusseldorf Airport in Germany lets travelers to avoid the hassle of finding a parking spot before heading to the check-in desk. (July 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Boeing Ups Outlook on 52% Profit Jump

Boeing Ups Outlook on 52% Profit Jump

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 23, 2014) — Commercial aircraft deliveries rose seven percent at Boeing, prompting the aerospace company to boost full-year profit guidance- though quarterly revenues missed analyst estimates. Bobbi Rebell reports. 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:
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