Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Genomics
Scientific Community
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

Researchers Obtain Key Insights into How the Internal Body Clock is Tuned

Published: Friday, August 22, 2014
Last Updated: Friday, August 22, 2014
Bookmark and Share
New way to regulate internal body clocks by long non-coding RNA.

Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have found a new way that internal body clocks are regulated by a type of molecule known as long non-coding RNA.

The internal body clocks, called circadian clocks, regulate the daily “rhythms” of many bodily functions, from waking and sleeping to body temperature and hunger. They are largely “tuned” to a 24-hour cycle that is influenced by external cues such as light and temperature.

“Although we know that long non-coding RNAs are abundant in many organisms, what they do in the body, and how they do it, has not been clear so far,” said Dr. Yi Liu, Professor of Physiology. “Our work establishes a role for long non-coding RNAs in ‘tuning’ the circadian clock, but also shows how they control gene expression.”

Determining how circadian clocks work is crucial to understanding several human diseases, including sleep disorders and depression in which the clock malfunctions. The influence of a functional clock is evident in the reduced performance of shift workers and the jet lag felt by long-distance travellers.

Dr. Liu and his team were able to learn more about the circadian rhythms by studying model systems involving the bread mold, Neurospora crassa. The researchers found that the expression of a clock gene named frequency (frq) is controlled by a long non-coding RNA named qrf (frq backwards) - an RNA molecule that is complementary, or antisense, to frq. Unlike normal RNA molecules, qrf does not encode a protein, but it can control whether and how much frq protein is produced.

Specifically, qrf RNA is produced in response to light, and can then interfere with the production of the frq protein. In this way, qrf can “re-set” the circadian clock in a light-dependent way. This regulation works both ways: frq can also block the production of qrf. This mutual inhibition ensures that the frq and qrf RNA molecules are present in opposite “phases” of the clock and allows each RNA to oscillate robustly. Without qrf, normal circadian rhythms are not sustained, indicating that the long non-coding RNA is required for clock functions.

The findings are published online in the journal Nature.

“We anticipate a similar mode of action may operate in other organisms because similar RNAs have been found for clock genes in mice. In addition, such RNAs may also function in other biological processes because of their wide presence in genomes,” said Dr. Liu, who is the Louise W. Kahn Scholar in Biomedical Research.

UT Southwestern investigators are leaders in unraveling the gene networks underlying circadian clocks and have shown that most body organs, such as the pancreas and liver, have their own internal clocks, and that virtually every cell in the human body contains a clock. It now appears that the clocks and clock-related genes - some 20 such genes have been identified - affect virtually all of the cells’ metabolic pathways, from blood sugar regulation to cholesterol production.

“This study adds to an important body of work that has shown the ubiquity of a circadian clock across species, including humans, and its role in metabolic regulation in cells, organs, and organisms,” said Dr. Michael Sesma, Program Director in the Division of Genetics and Developmental Biology at the of the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of General Medical Sciences, which partially funded the research. “These new results from Dr. Liu and his colleagues also extend beyond understanding the function of an anti-sense RNA in the fine tuning of a cell’s daily rhythm; they provide an example of the means by which anti-sense transcription likely regulates other key molecular and physiological processes in cells and organisms.”


Further Information

Join For Free

Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,900+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 4,200+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

HIV Protein Manipulates Hundreds of Human Genes
Findings search for new or improved treatments for patients with AIDS.
Thursday, January 28, 2016
UT Southwestern Scientists Synthesize Nanoparticles
Synthetic nanoparticles to deliver tumor-suppressing therapies to damaged livers.
Wednesday, January 27, 2016
Tumor-suppressing Gene Works by Restraining Mobile Genetic Elements
Findings from the study leads to new ways of diagnosing and treating cancer.
Saturday, January 23, 2016
UTSW Researchers Identifies How Drugs Alter Pancreatic Cancer Cells
The findings were published in Cell Reports.
Friday, January 22, 2016
Gene-editing Technique Successfully Stops Progression of DMD
CRISPR/Cas9-mediated genome editing to correct the mutation in the germ line of mice and prevent muscular dystrophy.
Friday, January 01, 2016
UT Southwestern Scientists Discover a New Role for RNA
Safeguarding chromosome number in human cells, with implications for cancer biology.
Wednesday, December 30, 2015
Scientists Detect Inherited Traits Tied to Sleep and Wake Associated with Severe Bipolar Disorder
Study provides targets for new approaches to prevent and treat bipolar disorder.
Wednesday, December 30, 2015
UT Southwestern Scientist Honored as Rising Star in Texas Research
Dr. Joshua Mendell selected as the recipient of the 2016 Edith and Peter O’Donnell Award in Medicine.
Saturday, December 12, 2015
UT Southwestern Geneticist Receives Breakthrough Prize
Dr. Helen H. Hobbs receives prestigious Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences.
Saturday, November 28, 2015
Researchers Develop Classification Model for Cancers Caused by KRAS
Most frequently mutated cancer gene help oncologists choose more effective cancer therapies.
Saturday, October 10, 2015
UT Southwestern Biochemist Receives NIH Early Independence Award
Dr. William Israelsen studies on hibernation may aid the fight against cancer.
Wednesday, October 07, 2015
UT Southwestern Geneticist to Receive Pearl Meister Greengard Prize
Dr. Helen Hobbs will receive the prize Nov. 17 in a ceremony at The Rockefeller University.
Tuesday, October 06, 2015
Physiologists Uncover a New Code at the Heart of Biology
New “code” - the speed limit of assembly - dictate the ultimate function of a given protein.
Thursday, September 24, 2015
Cell that Replenishes Heart Muscle Found by UT Southwestern Researchers
Researchers devise a new cell-tracing technique to detect cells that do replenish themselves.
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
Researchers Find Molecular Mechanisms within Fetal Lungs that Initiate Labor
Biochemists found that steroid receptor coactivators 1 and 2 (SRC-1 and SRC-2) proteins control genes.
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
Scientific News
Light Signals from Living Cells
Fluorescent protein markers delivered under high pressure.
Counting Cancer-busting Oxygen Molecules
Researchers from the Centre for Nanoscale BioPhotonics (CNBP), an Australian Research Centre of Excellence, have shown that nanoparticles used in combination with X-rays, are a viable method for killing cancer cells deep within the living body.
Genomic Signature Shared by Five Types of Cancer
National Institutes of Health researchers have identified a striking signature in tumor DNA that occurs in five different types of cancer.
Crowdfunding the Fight Against Cancer
From budding social causes to groundbreaking businesses to the next big band, crowdfunding has helped connect countless worthy projects with like-minded people willing to support their efforts, even in small ways. But could crowdfunding help fight cancer?
Switch Lets Salmonella Fight, Evade Immune System
Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago have discovered a molecular regulator that allows salmonella bacteria to switch from actively causing disease to lurking in a chronic but asymptomatic state called a biofilm.
Genetic Cause of Rare Allergy
Institute has identified a genetic mutation responsible for a rare form of inherited hives induced by vibratory urticaria.
Mitochondria Shown to Trigger Cell Ageing
An international team of scientists has for the first time shown that mitochondria, the batteries of the cells, are essential for ageing.
Cancer Cells Kill Off Healthy Neighbours
Cancer cells create space to grow by killing off surrounding healthy cells, according to UK researchers working with fruit flies.
Validating the Accuracy of CRISPR-Cas9
IBS Researchers create multiplex Digenome-seq to find errors in CRISPR-Cas9 processes.
Cancer Drug Target Visualized at Atomic Resolution
New study using cryo-electron microscopy shows how potential drugs could inhibit cancer.
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,900+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,200+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FOR FREE!