Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Biologists isolate genes that regulate the sleep-feeding conflict: New insights into how brain chooses between critical survival behaviors

Date:
June 10, 2010
Source:
New York University
Summary:
A team of biologists has isolated genes that regulate the sleep-feeding conflict. The study offers new insights into how the brain chooses between behaviors that are critical for survival.

A team of biologists has isolated genes that regulate the sleep-feeding conflict. The study, which appears in the latest issue of the journal Current Biology, offers new insights into how the brain chooses between behaviors that are critical for survival.

Related Articles


The work was conducted by researchers in New York University's Department of Biology, the Skirball Institute for Biomolecular Medicine at NYU School of Medicine, and the Department of Neurobiology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Previous research has shown that neural systems controlling sleep and feeding in mammals are interconnected: sleep deprivation promotes feeding, whereas starvation suppresses sleep, but little was known about the genes and neural basis of this interaction. The NYU and UMass research team sought to determine which genes are responsible for these behavioral associations.

To do so, they examined the genetic makeup of the fruit fly Drosophila. The genes that make up Drosophila's molecular clock have counterparts with similar functions in mammals, such as those controlling sleep-wake regulation and metabolism. Because of this similarity, it may be possible to identify genes in fruit flies that can be used to treat problems in people, such as sleep and metabolism-related disorders.

The researchers first determined that food deprivation in fruit flies suppresses sleep, meaning lack of food affects flies' sleep behaviors the same way it affects mammals' sleep. The researchers then sought to isolate which genes and neurons are responsible for the regulation of this behavior.

After an initial screening of 2,000 genes, they identified over a dozen involved in the interaction between feeding and sleep. From this smaller population, they focused on two genes, Clock (Clk) and cycle (cyc), which play a role in fruit flies' circadian, or biological, clock. Both genes, whose activity was particularly robust in both sleep and feeding, are also present in mammals.

To determine the impact of these two genes on sleep-feeding relationship, the researchers examined fruit flies with and without the Clk and cyc genes under food deprivation conditions -- the flies were given only a liquid gel containing no nutrients over a 24-hour period. The researchers monitored the flies' movement to determine sleep behavior.

Their results showed a three-to-four-fold reduction in sleep in starved flies missing the Clk and cyc genes compared to flies possessing these genes. The findings therefore demonstrated that both Clk and cyc aid in sleep under food deprivation conditions.

"This is a significant advance in how we approach behavioral genetics," said Alex Keene, a post-doctoral researcher in NYU's Department of Biology and the study's lead author. "We know that the brain is wired to engage in more than one behavior at a time, but less clear is the role different genes play in these actions."

"These findings are transformative because they show that a gene can do more than control one behavior," he added. "Clock and cycle can apparently integrate complex behaviors and therefore determine how an animal should act in a certain environment. These findings shed additional light on how genetics affects the brain's ability to make complex decisions."

"This work by Alex determines part of the neural mechanism that mediates a conflict in a hungry fly's brain in deciding whether to seek food or sleep," said Scott Waddell, an associate professor of neurobiology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and one of the study's co-authors. "It provides a foundation for understanding how the neural control of these two homeostatic behaviors is integrated in the brain."

The study's other authors were: Erik Dubouè, an NYU graduate student; Daniel McDonald, an NYU undergraduate; Justin Blau, an associate professor in NYU's Department of Biology; and Greg Suh, an assistant professor at Skirball Institute for Biomolecular Medicine at NYU School of Medicine.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Alex C. Keene, Erik R. Duboué, Daniel M. McDonald, Monica Dus, Greg S.B. Suh, Scott Waddell, and Justin Blau. Clock and cycle Limit Starvation-Induced Sleep Loss in Drosophila. Current Biology, 2010; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2010.05.029

Cite This Page:

New York University. "Biologists isolate genes that regulate the sleep-feeding conflict: New insights into how brain chooses between critical survival behaviors." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 June 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100610125623.htm>.
New York University. (2010, June 10). Biologists isolate genes that regulate the sleep-feeding conflict: New insights into how brain chooses between critical survival behaviors. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100610125623.htm
New York University. "Biologists isolate genes that regulate the sleep-feeding conflict: New insights into how brain chooses between critical survival behaviors." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100610125623.htm (accessed December 19, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, December 19, 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