Journal: Current Biology
Affiliations: 2Go to article
Neurons are the hands of brain cells’ internal clocks
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.
- Current Biology 26,2535–2542 (2016). doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2016.07.022
|Graduate School of Medical Sciences, KU, Japan||0.67|
|RIKEN Laboratory for Developmental Gene Regulation (DGR), Japan||0.33|