Manipulating the Cellular Circadian Period of Arginine Vasopressin Neurons Alters the Behavioral Circadian Period

Journal: Current Biology

Published: 2016-09-26

DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2016.07.022

Affiliations: 2

Authors: 3

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Research Highlight

Neurons are the hands of brain cells’ internal clocks

© Kerrick/E+/Getty

© Kerrick/E+/Getty

Neurons that control sleeping patterns can be manipulated to lengthen or shorten daily behaviour cycles.

The part of the brain that controls the ‘circadian rhythm’ — the daily cycle of bodily functions such as sleep or bowel movements — is split into a core and shell, each containing thousands of neurons which communicate to regulate biological functions. However, the neuronal mechanisms that drive the cycle’s length are unclear.

A team led by a researcher from Kanazawa University bred mice with a protein called CK1λ that regulates circadian rhythms, removed or added to arginine vasopressin (AVP) neurons in the shell. In sustained periods of darkness, the mice lacking CK1λ had a sleep cycle some 50 minutes longer than did mice with normal levels of CK1λ, while mice with enhanced CK1λ displayed a cycle 30 minutes shorter.

These results suggest that AVP neurons are an essential cog in the brain’s internal clock that controls how much time we spend sleeping.

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  1. Current Biology 26,2535–2542 (2016). doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2016.07.022
Institutions Share
Kanazawa University (KU), Japan 0.67
RIKEN Center for Brain Science (CBS), Japan 0.33