Scientists have discovered the gene responsible for the daily launch of biological clocks

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Last reviewed: 16.10.2021

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04 October 2011, 19:10

Almost all the processes occurring in the human body are subject to the biological clock, including the change in the "sleep-wake" cycles.

Scientists from the Salk Institute (USA) discovered a gene responsible for the daily launch of a biological clock. This discovery and interpretation of this gene will help explain the genetic mechanisms of insomnia, aging and chronic diseases such as cancer and diabetes, which will help in developing new effective drugs in the treatment of these diseases.

"Our body is a whole collection of watches," says Satchidananda Panda, the head of this project. "Essentially, we knew what mechanism gives an order to our body to stop for the night, but did not know what makes us wake up in the morning. Now, having discovered this reason, we can study how our biological clocks wear out in the process of aging and the development of chronic diseases. "

In a study published in the journal Science, scientists describe how the protein JARID1a, encoded by the KDM5A gene, serves as an activating switch for the circadian rhythms of our body.

The discovery of this gene complements the missing link in the molecular mechanism that controls the daily sleep-wake cycle. The scientists knew that the central role in the biological clock is played by the PERIOD protein (PER), the amount of which in each cell increases and decreases every 24 hours. The main reasons for increasing the protein level of PER are the CLOCK and BMAL1 genes. Reaching the maximum level by the end of the day, the PER protein inhibits the activity of the CLOCK and BMAL1 genes, thereby lowering its own level.

Decrease in the level of protein PER leads to lowering of arterial pressure, reduction of heart rate, slowing down of mental processes. But, until now, the exact reason for overcoming the night inhibition of the body's functions every morning with protein proteins CLOCK and BMAL1, remained unknown.

Scientists have established that the protein JARID1a discovered by them reactivates every morning with CLOCK and BMAL1 proteins. Confirmation to this was an experiment in which researchers used genetically modified mice lacking a gene that encodes JARID1a. As a result, the level of the PER protein did not rise to the initial level. Animals lost track of time, not knowing when to sleep and when to wake up. Circadian rhythms began to work when the animals were injected with preparations that mimicked the effect of JARID1a.

"Now that we have learned that it is the activator of our daily rhythm, we have a new direction in the study of circadian rhythm disorders, the development of new medicines against insomnia, diabetes and metabolic syndromes," concludes Panda.

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