GABA from vasopressin neurons regulates the time at which suprachiasmatic nucleus molecular clocks enable circadian behavior.
© PASIEKA/Science Photo Library/Getty Images
Transmission of a key neurotransmitter in the brain’s circadian rhythm control centre underpins the body’s 24-hour clock.
Neurons in a pinhead-sized region of the brain’s hypothalamus serve as master timekeepers of our biological clocks. These neurons transmit signals using the neurotransmitter GABA — but what messages those signals conveyed was unclear.
To find out, a team led by researchers at Kanazawa University in Japan engineered mice with neurons in this brain region that could not release GABA signals. The mice exhibited normal activity of genes associated with circadian rhythm, but aberrant firing of timekeeper neurons and atypical behavioural patterns throughout the day.
The finding that GABA signalling is critical to the body’s biochemical chronometer could lead to new treatments for insomnia, jet lag and other disorders of daily rhythms.
- PNAS 118, e2010168118 (2021). doi: 10.1073/pnas.2010168118
|Kanazawa University (KU), Japan||0.56|
|Meiji University, Japan||0.22|
|Tohoku University, Japan||0.11|
|Exploratory Research Center on Life and Living Systems (ExCELLS), NINS, Japan||0.06|
|National Institute for Physiological Sciences (NIPS), NINS, Japan||0.06|