Revealing circadian mechanisms of integration and resilience by visualizing clock proteins working in real time
Researchers have shown how three protein components of the circadian clock interact with each other on a sub-second timescale to ensure accurate time keeping.
The circadian clock, which governs things like sleep patterns, hormone secretion and body temperature in 24-hour cycles in organisms ranging from bacteria to humans, keeps remarkably good time. This regularity has long mystified scientists because the speeds of the underlying biochemical reactions vary with temperature.
Now, researchers from Kanazawa University in Japan and their collaborators have used high-speed atomic force microscopy to observe reactions between the three proteins in vitro at a sub-second timescale. They found that the high speed of the interactions between the components makes the clock resilient to external changes such as temperature fluctuations.
The team expects this finding will help researchers investigating jet lag and problems arising from shift work.
- Nature Communications 9, 3245 (2018). doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-05438-4