Feeds

Human 'alarm clock' enzyme discovered

Boffins isolate molecular wake-up call

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

When your alarm clock doesn't go off, you can thank a humble enzyme for getting you out of bed, scientists at the Salk Institute reveal in research published today.

Researchers examining the mechanisms that control our sleep have found the chemical reaction that makes us stir abruptly, throw the cat off the bed and stumble blinking into the bathroom.

They have pinpointed an enzyme called JARID1a which acts as a molecular "bugle call" to our cells, firing them into action, say research team led by Satchindananda Panda and Luciano DiTacchio.

We've already known that a protein called PERIOD or PER is at the centre of our biological clock – raising blood pressure, stimulating heart rate and mental processes – but what shuts it down at night or gets it going again in the morning was unclear.

Tests with human cells and fruit flies suggest that JARID1a is vital to healthy sleep patterns, and that it ensures that the PER protein rises to its normal peak each day.

Fruit flies that were genetically modified to under-produce JARID1a lost their circadian rhythms completely: "Flies deprived of JARID1a took frequent naps and were unable to settle into a normal pattern of sleeping," the researchers reported.

Our body clock is vital in regulating a whole range of functions – and any malfunctioning in the genes which control these processes can result in various disorders. Scientists hope their research will be useful in helping with investigations into those diseases.

The research was published in Science. ®

Remote control for virtualized desktops

More from The Register

next story
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
Rosetta science team thinks Philae might come to life in the spring
And disclose the biggest surprise of Comet 67P
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
prev story

Whitepapers

Driving business with continuous operational intelligence
Introducing an innovative approach offered by ExtraHop for producing continuous operational intelligence.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Internet Security Threat Report 2014
An overview and analysis of the year in global threat activity: identify, analyze, and provide commentary on emerging trends in the dynamic threat landscape.