24hr clock made by several rhythms

Posted by egg3 at Sep 16, 2014 10:10 AM |
Discovery could change treatment of sleeping disorders

Researchers from our Department of Genetics have shown for the first time that brain cells don’t all follow the same 24-hour cycle, but can vary in their routines, a discovery which could change the way we treat sleep disorders.

While it is known that there is a clock in the brain that like a musical conductor orchestrates all body functions to cycle with a 24-hour rhythm, Dr Ezio Rosato and Professor Bambos Kyriacou have shown that, at least in flies, brain cells called neurons tend to cycle with different periods, and only when they synchronise together do they produce the 24h rhythms we know.

The team exploited genetics tricks to ‘over-excite’ or ‘repress’ neurons in the brain of Drosophila fruit flies, a model organism used in genetics research. The researchers observed that some cells have a tendency to follow a longer than 24 hour rhythm, whereas others work on a slower cycle.

The next step is to see how these cells connect and chemically talk to each other and to understand how they work together as a network to generate the properties of the clock.

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