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

Unusual Comparison Nets New Sleep Loss Marker

Published: Wednesday, May 08, 2013
Last Updated: Wednesday, May 08, 2013
Bookmark and Share
Paul Shaw, PhD, a researcher at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, uses what he learns in fruit flies to look for markers of sleep loss in humans.

Shaw reverses the process in a new paper, taking what he finds in humans back to the flies and gaining new insight into humans as a result: identification of a human gene that is more active after sleep deprivation.

“I’m calling the approach cross-translational research,” says Shaw, associate professor of neurobiology. “Normally we go from model to human, but there’s no reason why we can’t take our studies from human to model and back again.”

Shaw and his colleagues plan to use the information they are gaining to create a panel of tests for sleep loss. The tests may one day help assess a person’s risk of falling asleep at the wheel of a car or in other dangerous contexts.

PLOS One published the results on April 24.

Scientists have known for years that sleep disorders and disruption raise blood serum levels of interleukin 6, an inflammatory immune compound. Shaw showed that this change is also detectable in saliva samples from sleep-deprived rats and humans.

Based on this link, Shaw tested the activity of other immune proteins in humans to see if any changed after sleep loss. The scientists took saliva samples from research participants after they had a normal night’s sleep and after they stayed awake for 30 hours. They found two immune genes whose activity levels rose during sleep deprivation.

“Normally we would do additional human experiments to verify these links,” Shaw says. “But those studies can be quite expensive, so we thought we’d test the connections in flies first.”

The researchers identified genes in the fruit fly that were equivalent to the human genes, but their activity didn’t increase when flies lost sleep. When they screened other, similar fruit fly genes, though, the scientists found one that did.

“We’ve seen this kind of switch happen before as we compared families of fly genes and families of human genes,” Shaw says. “Sometimes the gene performing a particular role will change, but the task will still be handled by a gene in the same family.”

When the scientists looked for the human version of the newly identified fly marker for sleep deprivation, they found ITGA5 and realized it hadn’t been among the human immune genes they screened at the start of the study. Testing ITGA5 activity in the saliva samples revealed that its activity levels increased during sleep deprivation.

“We will need more time to figure out how useful this particular marker will be for detecting sleep deprivation in humans,” Shaw says. “In the meantime, we’re going to continue jumping between our flies and humans to maximize our insights.”

Further Information
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 2,800+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 4,000+ 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 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

$8 Million to Study Gene-Lifestyle Interactions on Heart Health
Four-year grant will support the first large-scale, multiethnic statistical analysis of risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
Wednesday, April 09, 2014
Study Offers Clues to Cause of Kids’ Brain Tumors
Insights from a genetic condition that causes brain cancer are helping scientists better understand the most common type of brain tumor in children.
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Scientific News
New Tech Vastly Improves CRISPR/Cas9 Accuracy
A new CRISPR/Cas9 technology developed by scientists at UMass Medical School is precise enough to surgically edit DNA at nearly any genomic location, while avoiding potentially harmful off-target changes typically seen in standard CRISPR gene editing techniques.
New Class of RNA Tumor Suppressors Identified
Two short, “housekeeping” RNA molecules block cancer growth by binding to an important cancer-associated protein called KRAS. More than a quarter of all human cancers are missing these RNAs.
Biologists Induce Flatworms to Grow Heads and Brains of Other Species
Findings shed light on role of a new kind of epigenetic signaling in evolution, could yield clues for understanding birth defects and regeneration.
Turning up the Tap on Microbes Leads to Better Protein Patenting
Mining millions of proteins could become faster and easier with a new technique that may also transform the enzyme-catalyst industry, according to University of California, Davis, researchers.
Mathematical Model Forecasts the Path of Breast Cancer
Chances of survival depend on which organs breast cancer tumors colonize first.
Exploring the Causes of Cancer
Queen's research to understand the regulation of a cell surface protein involved in cancer.
Ancient Viral Molecules Essential for Human Development
Genetic material from ancient viral infections is critical to human development, according to researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.
Tardigrade's Are DNA Master Thieves
Tardigrades, nearly microscopic animals that can survive the harshest of environments, including outer space, hold the record for the animal that has the most foreign DNA.
The Secret Behind the Power of Bacterial Sex
Migration between different communities of bacteria is the key to the type of gene transfer that can lead to the spread of traits such as antibiotic resistance, according to researchers at Oxford University.
Farming’s in Their DNA
Ancient genomes reveal natural selection in action.
Skyscraper Banner

SELECTBIO Market Reports
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
2,800+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,000+ scientific videos