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Scientists Discover a Gene That Controls the Circadian Rhythm

Researchers from Northwestern University released a study titled The E3 Ubiquitin Ligase Adapter Tango10 Links the Core Circadian Clock to Neuropeptide and Behavioral Rhythms. In the paper, the neurobiological detail how they have discovered a gene, Tango10, involved in the daily rhythms. The gene is part of the molecular pathways in which the circadian rhythm regulates the sleep-wake cycle.

The neurobiologists hope that others can use their findings to develop therapies for sleep issues and investigate diseases such as metabolic disease, neurodegenerative disease, and depression related to the circadian rhythm.

According to lead researcher, chairperson of the department of neurobiology in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, Edgar C. Stuntz Distinguished Professor of Neuroscience and an expert on circadian rhythms, Dr. Ravi Allada, while scientists have done a lot of research on the clock, they know little on where the behavior comes from or how the two are related. He adds that they wanted to understand the molecular composition of the cycle.

How scientists conducted the experiment

Scientists conducted the study on fruit flies. They looked at pacemaker neurons that regulate the biological clock. They also utilized genetic screening to find genes that control the neurons.

The researchers did not restrict themselves to fruit fly experiments on Allada’s lab. Instead, they partnered with Mathew Moyeat and Casey Dieckman from the New Jersey Institute of Technology. The two scientists conducted experiments on computational modelling.

Tango10 controlled the circadian rhythm

The team discovered the Tango10 gene when they screened multiple genes they suspected played a part in the circadian rhythm in the fruit fly. They confirmed the function of the gene by removing it to see its effect. As a result, the fruit flies normal circadian rhythm changed. The discovered that by removing the gene, specific potassium currents reduced causing hyperactive neurons which led to the fruit fly losing a regular rhythm.

When the Tango10 gene is present in the fruit fly, the Tango10 protein rises or regularly lowers, causing neuronal activity to behave in the same way. The change regulates the circadian rhythm in the flies. Neurobiologists believe that they can also apply these findings to humans.

Written by Payal Gupta

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