Medical News You Can Use: Reset Button Edition – Circadian Rhythm Synchronizer Found
Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, May 10, 2015
“Reset Button” For Internal Body Clock Discovered
Canadian scientists have discovered a type of molecular “reset button” for the body’s “internal clock.” In a study published in “Nature Neuroscience” they describe processes and proteins in the brain which play a role in synchronizing the circadian rhythm. They hope that their findings may contribute to treating disorders associated with a disruption of the body’s internal clock.
A team of researchers from McGill University and Concordia University in Montreal discovered that the internal clock is “reset” if a key protein is combined with a phosphate. Specifically, this is known as phosphorylation, which is triggered by light. The light stimulates the synthesis of Period proteins that play a key role in the adjustment process. That synchronizes the clock’s rhythm with the environment’s day-night cycles.
In order to study the mechanisms further, the researchers engineered mice with mutated elF4E proteins so that they could not be phosphorylated. Experiments with the animals showed that those with the mutated enzyme responded less efficiently to the reset effect of light and were not able to adjust their internal clocks to the new day-night-rhythms.
“While we can’t predict a time line for these findings to be translated into clinical use, our study opens a new window to manipulate the functions of the circadian clock,” said lead author Ruifeng Cao.