London, April 16: Our internal body clock, influenced by the exposure to light, dictates the wake-sleep cycle.
In a thrilling discovery, researchers have found a ‘missing’ component that plays a key role in the regulation of the whole-body circadian clock.
At the cellular level, the clock is controlled by a complex network of genes and proteins that switch each other on and off based on cues from their environment.
The scientists have found a new circadian gene named Chrono.
Chrono functions as a transcriptional repressor of the negative feedback loop in the mammalian clock.
“The protein Chrono binds to the regulatory region of clock genes, with its repressor function oscillating in a circadian manner. The expression of core clock genes is altered in mice lacking the Chrono gene, and the mice have longer circadian cycles,” explained Akihiro Goriki from RIKEN research institute in Japan.
These results suggest that Chrono functions as a core clock repressor, Toru Takumi from RIKEN added.
The team also had researchers from Hiroshima University in Japan and University of Michigan in the US.
The findings were published in the journal PLOS Biology.