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Researchers identify new genes that control the sleep / wake cycle in mice




The persistent emotions in our hearts that seek sleep at night, wake up in the morning, eat, work, and play are hereditary and not unique to humans. Almost all living things, from animals to plants to some microbes and fungi, have a biological clock, or circadian rhythm.

But scientists are confused about how these genes work. Today, Virginia Tech scientists are one step closer to the answer, thanks to mouse DNA, Petri dishes, and a lot of patience. In a new study published in Genes & Development, Shihoko Kojima, an assistant professor at the Faculty of Biological Sciences, part of Virginia Tech, and a researcher at the Furarin Institute for Life Sciences, and her team said / A new gene, Per2AS, that controls the wakefulness cycle.

Per2AS appears to be a new type of gene known as a non-coding gene. Unlike most other genes, Per2AS is not translated from RNA into subsequent proteins, so its function is unknown to date. (The circadian rhythm comes from the Latin word circadiem, or “per day.”)

This study has been underway for several years. Nine, exactly. Why are you in office for so long? Well, it’s complicated. literally.

Per2AS was a non-coding gene, so it was difficult to find its job. Scientists have accumulated a great deal of knowledge and tools to elucidate the function of traditional genes. However, these tools cannot be easily applied to non-traditional genes such as Per2AS. This is because most tools are built on unique characteristics that are common to traditional genes.

Shihoko Kojima, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Biological Sciences, Virginia Tech

In addition to Kojima, the survey includes 13 authors, including Virginia Tech faculty, former staff, and graduates. They are Rebecca Mosig, a professor at John Tyson University in the Faculty of Biological Sciences, a former director of Systems Biology at the Academy of Integrated Sciences, and a research expert. Undergraduate graduates Alison Castaneda, Jacob Deslaurier, Landon Frazier, Kevin He, Nassim Magzian, Camille Schrier. Most of them seek an advanced degree in healthcare or research. Aarati Pokharel (now University of Virginia) and Lily Zhu (now Johns Hopkins University), graduates of Blacksburg High School.

According to Kojima, when the Human Genome Project was launched about 30 years ago, scientists believed that most of our genome was made up of traditional genes., Personality. That wasn’t true.

“It turns out that only 2% of our genome is used for traditional genes and the rest are non-traditional genes. These non-traditional genes are also important for our traits. There is a heated debate about whether or not, and some say it has important features, “she said.

Increasing evidence is that at least some non-traditional genes are important for various biological processes such as neural activity, immune function, cell differentiation, and the development of diseases including cancer, neurodegeneration, and congenital genetic diseases. It suggests that. “

Important lesson: Non-traditional genes are important to the genome because they can have the ability to control the biological clock. In other words, non-traditional genes are just as important as the more basic genes.

“Human has the same gene,” says Kojima. “But at this point, it’s unclear if the human version has the same functionality as the mouse version. Most organisms on Earth have a circadian clock. This is a daily change in the environment. Because it is an important internal timing system to adapt to. It is due to the rotation of the earth. The human circadian clock is not much different from the rodent and insect circadian clocks. “

What’s next? Kojima wants to study genes in a living mouse model. Not just from Petri dishes. “I also want to know if this gene is present in many other organisms. If so, that means this gene is very important.”


Journal reference:

Mosig, RA, Et al.Natural antisense transcription of (2021) Period 2, Per2AS, Adjust the amplitude of the mouse circadian clock. Gene and development.


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