Scientists have discovered a gene that is responsible for managing the biorhythms of mammals. Its removal made the mice neurotic and sleepy. And this discovery will help people find leverage for managing sleep quality.
To find out all the secrets of the mechanisms of circadian rhythms, Canadian researchers turned to a tiny hypothalamic region that controls the biorhythms in mammals. They investigated the suprachiasmatic nucleus in mice and identified the gene that regulates their biological clock, according to EurekAlert.
The team discovered a gene called SOX2, which was the process regulator, but the findings surprised scientists.
The fact is that SOX2 is usually expressed in stem and cancer cells and is rarely found in large quantities in the healthy human brain, the authors explain.
In experiments with mice, the team tested the effect of the gene on the behavior of rodents during the day. The scientists removed the SOX2 and placed them in the usual, albeit seemingly anomalous conditions. Mice had to run around in the wheel in the dark and sleep when the lights were turned on.
“Removing the gene literally broke the biorhythms of mice that did not know how to behave, in response to even a weak light effect,” says scientist Arthur Cheng. Soon, mice showed weak activity and irregular sleep.
Scientists also noticed that the manipulation introduced major disturbances to the work of other genes in the suprachiasmatic nucleus. Probably, SOX2 coordinates the expression of many genes and thus contributes the main regulator to the function of the suprachiasmatic nucleus, the authors suggest.
Disruption of circadian rhythms is associated with many health problems in humans. It is believed that regular malfunctions lead to cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
In humans, as in mice in this study, the effect of light violates the biological clock, according to American researchers. And in the United States developed a blood test to determine the exact biological rhythms.