Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Putting sleep disorders to bed: New way to improve internal clock function

Date:
August 21, 2013
Source:
McGill University
Summary:
Researchers have identified how a fundamental biological process called protein synthesis is controlled within the body's circadian clock -- the internal mechanism that controls one's daily rhythms. Their findings may help shed light on future treatments for disorders triggered by circadian clock dysfunction, including jet lag, shift work disorders, and chronic conditions like depression and Parkinson's disease.

Overnight flights across the Atlantic, graveyard shifts, stress-induced insomnia are all prime culprits in keeping us from getting a good night's sleep. Thanks to new research from McGill University and Concordia University, however, these common sleep disturbances may one day be put to bed.

The rotation of Earth generates day and night. It also confers daily rhythms to all living beings. In mammals, something known as a "circadian clock" in the brain drives daily rhythms in sleep and wakefulness, feeding and metabolism, and many other essential processes. But the inner workings of this brain clock are complex, and the molecular processes behind it have eluded scientists -- until now.

In a new study published in Neuron, researchers have identified how a fundamental biological process called protein synthesis is controlled within the body's circadian clock -- the internal mechanism that controls one's daily rhythms. Their findings may help shed light on future treatments for disorders triggered by circadian clock dysfunction, including jet lag, shift work disorders, and chronic conditions like depression and Parkinson's disease.

"To understand and treat the causes and symptoms of circadian abnormalities, we have to take a closer look at the fundamental biological mechanisms that control our internal clocks," says study co-author Dr. Shimon Amir, professor in Concordia University's Department of Psychology.

To do so, Amir and co-author Dr. Nahum Sonenberg, a James McGill professor in the Dept. of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine, at the Goodman Cancer Research Centre at McGill University, studied how protein synthesis is controlled in the brain clock. "We identified a repressor protein in the clock and found that by removing this protein, the brain clock function was surprisingly improved," explains Dr. Sonenberg.

Because all mammals have similar circadian clocks, the team used mice to conduct their experiments. They studied mice that lacked this specific protein, known as 4E-BP1, which blocks the important function of protein synthesis. They found that the mice that lacked this protein overcame disruptions to their circadian clocks more quickly.

"In modern society, with the frequency of trans-time zone travel, we often deal with annoying jet lag problems, which usually require a couple of weeks of transition," says Dr.Ruifeng Cao, a postdoctoral fellow who works with Drs. Sonenberg and Amir, "However, by inducing a state like jet lag in the mice lacking that protein, we found they were able to adapt to time zones changes in about half of the time required by regular mice."

Furthermore, the researchers found that a small protein that is critical for brain clock function, vasoactive intestinal peptide or VIP, was increased in the mice lacking the protein 4E-BP1. The results indicate that the functioning of the circadian clock could be improved by genetic manipulations, opening doors on new ways to treat circadian clock-related disorders.

"A stronger clock function may help improve many physiological processes, such as aging," says Cao. "In addition, understanding the molecular mechanisms of biological clocks may contribute to the development of time-managing drugs," Amir concurs, noting that "the more we know about these mechanisms, the better able we will be to solve problems associated with disruptions to our bodies' internal clocks."


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Ruifeng Cao, Barry Robinson, Haiyan Xu, Christos Gkogkas, Arkady Khoutorsky, Tommy Alain, Akiko Yanagiya, Tatiana Nevarko, AndrewC. Liu, Shimon Amir, Nahum Sonenberg. Translational Control of Entrainment and Synchrony of the Suprachiasmatic Circadian Clock by mTOR/4E-BP1 Signaling. Neuron, 2013; 79 (4): 712 DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2013.06.026

Cite This Page:

McGill University. "Putting sleep disorders to bed: New way to improve internal clock function." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 August 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130821132719.htm>.
McGill University. (2013, August 21). Putting sleep disorders to bed: New way to improve internal clock function. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130821132719.htm
McGill University. "Putting sleep disorders to bed: New way to improve internal clock function." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130821132719.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Get on Your Bike! London Cycling Popularity Soars Despite Danger

Get on Your Bike! London Cycling Popularity Soars Despite Danger

AFP (Sep. 1, 2014) Wedged between buses, lorries and cars, cycling in London isn't for the faint hearted. Nevertheless the number of people choosing to bike in the British capital has doubled over the past 15 years. Duration: 02:27 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Newsy (Sep. 1, 2014) New research says if you condition yourself to eat healthy foods, eventually you'll crave them instead of junk food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) A new study suggests 100 percent of adult humans (those over 18 years of age) have Demodex mites living in their faces. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Liberia Continues Fight Against Ebola

Liberia Continues Fight Against Ebola

AFP (Aug. 30, 2014) Authorities in Liberia try to stem the spread of the Ebola epidemic by raising awareness and setting up sanitation units for people to wash their hands. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
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