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Revealed -- how genes control 24-hour circadian rhythm in humans

Revealed -- how genes control 24-hour circadian rhythm in humans

Written by Agencies |Updated : September 15, 2014 1:50 PM IST

GenesA new study published in the journal Genes and Development has revealed how genes involved in circadian clock in humans control them in a proper rhythm within 24-hour period. This study reveals the actual involvement of genes almost 16 years after scientists after their discovery.

According to the researchers, it was known that there are four proteins involved in maintaining the circadian rhythm but how exactly they reset the cells was not known. The findings of this study gives a better idea about how the genes function to set the cells rhythm.

How is the circadian cycle controlled by genes?

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The four proteins are coded by four genes - Cryptochrome, Period, CLOCK, and BMAL1 - that work together to control the cyclical changes in human physiology such as blood pressure, body temperature and rest-sleep cycles. The way in which these genes control physiology helps prepare us for the day.

These genes work in a feedback loop mechanism that that keeps cells in proper physiological rhythm. CLOCK and BMAL1 bind to a pair of genes called Period and Cryptochrome and turn them on to express proteins, which - after several modifications - wind up suppressing CLOCK and BMAL1 activity. Then, the Period and Cryptochrome proteins are degraded, allowing for the circadian clock to begin again.

'It is a feedback loop inhibition takes 24 hours, explaining why we can see gene activity go up and then down throughout the day,' sais Aziz Sancar, professor of biochemistry and biophysics at the University of North Carolina's school of medicine.

How is the study useful?

The finding has implications for the development of drugs for various diseases such as cancers and diabetes, as well as conditions such as metabolic syndrome, insomnia, seasonal affective disorder, obesity and even jet lag. 'We have known for a while that four proteins were involved in generating daily rhythmicity but not exactly what they did. Now we know how the clock is reset in all cells. So it gives a better idea of if what to expect we target these proteins with therapeutics.

With inputs from IANS

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