ResearchPad - circadian-rhythms https://www.researchpad.co Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[Quantitative live imaging of Venus::BMAL1 in a mouse model reveals complex dynamics of the master circadian clock regulator]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_13838 Cell-autonomous circadian clocks are transcriptional/translational feedback loops that co-ordinate almost all mammalian physiology and behaviour. Although their genetic basis is well understood, we are largely ignorant of the natural behaviour of clock proteins and how they work within these loops. This is particularly true for the essential transcriptional activator BMAL1. To address this, we created and validated a mouse carrying a fully functional knock-in allele that encodes a fluorescent fusion of BMAL1 (Venus::BMAL1). Quantitative live imaging in tissue explants and cells, including the central clock of the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), revealed the circadian expression, nuclear-cytoplasmic mobility, fast kinetics and surprisingly low molecular abundance of endogenous BMAL1, providing significant quantitative insights into the intracellular mechanisms of circadian timing at single-cell resolution.

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<![CDATA[O-GlcNAcylation of PERIOD regulates its interaction with CLOCK and timing of circadian transcriptional repression]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c5ca281d5eed0c48441e509

Circadian clocks coordinate time-of-day-specific metabolic and physiological processes to maximize organismal performance and fitness. In addition to light and temperature, which are regarded as strong zeitgebers for circadian clock entrainment, metabolic input has now emerged as an important signal for clock entrainment and modulation. Circadian clock proteins have been identified to be substrates of O-GlcNAcylation, a nutrient sensitive post-translational modification (PTM), and the interplay between clock protein O-GlcNAcylation and other PTMs is now recognized as an important mechanism by which metabolic input regulates circadian physiology. To better understand the role of O-GlcNAcylation in modulating clock protein function within the molecular oscillator, we used mass spectrometry proteomics to identify O-GlcNAcylation sites of PERIOD (PER), a repressor of the circadian transcriptome and a critical biochemical timer of the Drosophila clock. In vivo functional characterization of PER O-GlcNAcylation sites indicates that O-GlcNAcylation at PER(S942) reduces interactions between PER and CLOCK (CLK), the key transcriptional activator of clock-controlled genes. Since we observe a correlation between clock-controlled daytime feeding activity and higher level of PER O-GlcNAcylation, we propose that PER(S942) O-GlcNAcylation during the day functions to prevent premature initiation of circadian repression phase. This is consistent with the period-shortening behavioral phenotype of per(S942A) flies. Taken together, our results support that clock-controlled feeding activity provides metabolic signals to reinforce light entrainment to regulate circadian physiology at the post-translational level. The interplay between O-GlcNAcylation and other PTMs to regulate circadian physiology is expected to be complex and extensive, and reach far beyond the molecular oscillator.

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<![CDATA[Dynamical differential expression (DyDE) reveals the period control mechanisms of the Arabidopsis circadian oscillator]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c5ca30ed5eed0c48441f086

The circadian oscillator, an internal time-keeping device found in most organisms, enables timely regulation of daily biological activities by maintaining synchrony with the external environment. The mechanistic basis underlying the adjustment of circadian rhythms to changing external conditions, however, has yet to be clearly elucidated. We explored the mechanism of action of nicotinamide in Arabidopsis thaliana, a metabolite that lengthens the period of circadian rhythms, to understand the regulation of circadian period. To identify the key mechanisms involved in the circadian response to nicotinamide, we developed a systematic and practical modeling framework based on the identification and comparison of gene regulatory dynamics. Our mathematical predictions, confirmed by experimentation, identified key transcriptional regulatory mechanisms of circadian period and uncovered the role of blue light in the response of the circadian oscillator to nicotinamide. We suggest that our methodology could be adapted to predict mechanisms of drug action in complex biological systems.

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<![CDATA[Alternative splicing of ZmCCA1 mediates drought response in tropical maize]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c5b5269d5eed0c4842bc7b1

The circadian clock regulates numerous biological processes in plants, especially development and stress responses. CIRCADIAN CLOCK-ASSOCIATED 1 (CCA1) is one of the core components of the day–night rhythm response and is reportedly associated with ambient temperature in Arabidopsis thaliana. However, it remains unknown if alternative splicing of ZmCCA1 is modulated by external stress in maize, such as drought stress and photoperiod. Here, we identified three ZmCCA1 splice variants in the tropical maize line CML288, which are predicted to encode three different protein isoforms, i.e., ZmCCA1.1, ZmCCA1.2, and ZmCCA1.3, which all retain the MYB domain. In maize, the expression levels of ZmCCA1 splice variants were influenced by photoperiod, tissue type, and drought stress. In transgenic A. thaliana, ZmCCA1.1 may be more effective than ZmCCA1.3 in increasing drought tolerance while ZmCCA1.2 may have only a small effect on tolerance to drought stress. Additionally, although CCA1 genes have been found in many plant species, alternative CCA1 splicing events are known to occur in species-specific ways. Our study provides new sight to explore the function of ZmCCA1 splice variants’ response to abiotic stress, and clarify the linkage between circadian clock and environmental stress in maize.

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<![CDATA[Coherency of circadian rhythms in the SCN is governed by the interplay of two coupling factors]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c18139dd5eed0c4847755e7

Circadian clocks are autonomous oscillators driving daily rhythms in physiology and behavior. In mammals, a network of coupled neurons in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) is entrained to environmental light-dark cycles and orchestrates the timing of peripheral organs. In each neuron, transcriptional feedbacks generate noisy oscillations. Coupling mediated by neuropeptides such as VIP and AVP lends precision and robustness to circadian rhythms. The detailed coupling mechanisms between SCN neurons are debated. We analyze organotypic SCN slices from neonatal and adult mice in wild-type and multiple knockout conditions. Different degrees of rhythmicity are quantified by pixel-level analysis of bioluminescence data. We use empirical orthogonal functions (EOFs) to characterize spatio-temporal patterns. Simulations of coupled stochastic single cell oscillators can reproduce the diversity of observed patterns. Our combination of data analysis and modeling provides deeper insight into the enormous complexity of the data: (1) Neonatal slices are typically stronger oscillators than adult slices pointing to developmental changes of coupling. (2) Wild-type slices are completely synchronized and exhibit specific spatio-temporal patterns of phases. (3) Some slices of Cry double knockouts obey impaired synchrony that can lead to co–existing rhythms (“splitting”). (4) The loss of VIP-coupling leads to desynchronized rhythms with few residual local clusters. Additional information was extracted from co–culturing slices with rhythmic neonatal wild-type SCNs. These co–culturing experiments were simulated using external forcing terms representing VIP and AVP signaling. The rescue of rhythmicity via co–culturing lead to surprising results, since a cocktail of AVP-antagonists improved synchrony. Our modeling suggests that these counter-intuitive observations are pointing to an antagonistic action of VIP and AVP coupling. Our systematic theoretical and experimental study shows that dual coupling mechanisms can explain the astonishing complexity of spatio-temporal patterns in SCN slices.

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<![CDATA[JMJD5 links CRY1 function and proteasomal degradation]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c0ae426d5eed0c484589014

The circadian oscillator is a molecular feedback circuit whose orchestration involves posttranslational control of the activity and protein levels of its components. Although controlled proteolysis of circadian proteins is critical for oscillator function, our understanding of the underlying mechanisms remains incomplete. Here, we report that JmjC domain–containing protein 5 (JMJD5) interacts with CRYPTOCHROME 1 (CRY1) in an F-box/leucine-rich repeat protein 3 (FBXL3)-dependent manner and facilitates targeting of CRY1 to the proteasome. Genetic deletion of JMJD5 results in greater CRY1 stability, reduced CRY1 association with the proteasome, and disruption of circadian gene expression. We also report that in the absence of JMJD5, AMP-regulated protein kinase (AMPK)-induced CRY1 degradation is impaired, establishing JMJD5 as a key player in this mechanism. JMJD5 cooperates with CRY1 to repress circadian locomotor output cycles protein kaput (CLOCK)–brain and muscle ARNT-like protein 1 (BMAL1), thus linking CRY1 destabilization to repressive function. Finally, we find that ablation of JMJD5 impacts FBXL3- and CRY1-related functions beyond the oscillator.

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<![CDATA[Modulation of miR-210 alters phasing of circadian locomotor activity and impairs projections of PDF clock neurons in Drosophila melanogaster]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5b600749463d7e39c55261fd

Single microRNAs are usually associated with hundreds of putative target genes that can influence multiple phenotypic traits in Drosophila, ranging from development to behaviour. We investigated the function of Drosophila miR-210 in circadian behaviour by misexpressing it within circadian clock cells. Manipulation of miR-210 expression levels in the PDF (pigment dispersing factor) positive neurons affected the phase of locomotor activity, under both light-dark conditions and constant darkness. PER cyclical expression was not affected in clock neurons, however, when miR-210 was up-regulated, a dramatic alteration in the morphology of PDF ventral lateral neuron (LNv) arborisations was observed. The effect of miR-210 in shaping neuronal projections was confirmed in vitro, using a Drosophila neuronal cell line. A transcriptomic analysis revealed that miR-210 overexpression affects the expression of several genes belonging to pathways related to circadian processes, neuronal development, GTPases signal transduction and photoreception. Collectively, these data reveal the role of miR-210 in modulating circadian outputs in flies and guiding/remodelling PDF positive LNv arborisations and indicate that miR-210 may have pleiotropic effects on the clock, light perception and neuronal development.

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<![CDATA[A component of the TOR (Target Of Rapamycin) nutrient-sensing pathway plays a role in circadian rhythmicity in Neurospora crassa]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5b49ab72463d7e11e6cdb2eb

The TOR (Target of Rapamycin) pathway is a highly-conserved signaling pathway in eukaryotes that regulates cellular growth and stress responses. The cellular response to amino acids or carbon sources such as glucose requires anchoring of the TOR kinase complex to the lysosomal/vacuolar membrane by the Ragulator (mammals) or EGO (yeast) protein complex. Here we report a connection between the TOR pathway and circadian (daily) rhythmicity. The molecular mechanism of circadian rhythmicity in all eukaryotes has long been thought to be transcription/translation feedback loops (TTFLs). In the model eukaryote Neurospora crassa, a TTFL including FRQ (frequency) and WCC (white collar complex) has been intensively studied. However, it is also well-known that rhythmicity can be seen in the absence of TTFL functioning. We previously isolated uv90 as a mutation that compromises FRQ-less rhythms and also damps the circadian oscillator when FRQ is present. We have now mapped the uv90 gene and identified it as NCU05950, homologous to the TOR pathway proteins EGO1 (yeast) and LAMTOR1 (mammals), and we have named the N. crassa protein VTA (vacuolar TOR-associated protein). The protein is anchored to the outer vacuolar membrane and deletion of putative acylation sites destroys this localization as well as the protein’s function in rhythmicity. A deletion of VTA is compromised in its growth responses to amino acids and glucose. We conclude that a key protein in the complex that anchors TOR to the vacuole plays a role in maintaining circadian (daily) rhythmicity. Our results establish a connection between the TOR pathway and circadian rhythms and point towards a network integrating metabolism and the circadian system.

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<![CDATA[Instrument design and protocol for the study of light controlled processes in aquatic organisms, and its application to examine the effect of infrared light on zebrafish]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db53ab0ee8fa60bdca5b

The acquisition of reliable data strongly depends on experimental design. When studying the effects of light on processes such as behaviour and physiology it is crucial to maintain all environmental conditions constant apart from the one under study. Furthermore, the precise values of the environmental factors applied during the experiment should be known. Although seemingly obvious, these conditions are often not met when the effects of light are being studied. Here, we document and discuss the wavelengths and light intensities of natural and artificial light sources. We present standardised experimental protocols together with building plans of a custom made instrument designed to accurately control light and temperature for experiments using fresh water or marine species. Infrared light is commonly used for recording behaviour and in electrophysiological experiments although the properties of fish photoreceptors potentially allow detection into the far red. As an example of our experimental procedure we have applied our protocol and instrument to specifically test the impact of infrared light (840 nm) on the zebrafish circadian clock, which controls many aspects of behaviour, physiology and metabolism. We demonstrate that infrared light does not influence the zebrafish circadian clock. Our results help to provide a solid framework for the future study of light dependent processes in aquatic organisms.

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<![CDATA[Altered Entrainment to the Day/Night Cycle Attenuates the Daily Rise in Circulating Corticosterone in the Mouse]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db47ab0ee8fa60bd8e75

The suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) is a circadian oscillator entrained to the day/night cycle via input from the retina. Serotonin (5-HT) afferents to the SCN modulate retinal signals via activation of 5-HT1B receptors, decreasing responsiveness to light. Consequently, 5-HT1B receptor knockout (KO) mice entrain to the day/night cycle with delayed activity onsets. Since circulating corticosterone levels exhibit a robust daily rhythm peaking around activity onset, we asked whether delayed entrainment of activity onsets affects rhythmic corticosterone secretion. Wheel-running activity and plasma corticosterone were monitored in mice housed under several different lighting regimens. Both duration of the light∶dark cycle (T cycle) and the duration of light within that cycle was altered. 5-HT1B KO mice that entrained to a 9.5L:13.5D (short day in a T = 23 h) cycle with activity onsets delayed more than 4 h after light offset exhibited a corticosterone rhythm in phase with activity rhythms but reduced 50% in amplitude compared to animals that initiated daily activity <4 h after light offset. Wild type mice in 8L:14D (short day in a T = 22 h) conditions with highly delayed activity onsets also exhibited a 50% reduction in peak plasma corticosterone levels. Exogenous adrenocorticotropin (ACTH) stimulation in animals exhibiting highly delayed entrainment suggested that the endogenous rhythm of adrenal responsiveness to ACTH remained aligned with SCN-driven behavioral activity. Circadian clock gene expression in the adrenal cortex of these same animals suggested that the adrenal circadian clock was also aligned with SCN-driven behavior. Under T cycles <24 h, altered circadian entrainment to short day (winter-like) conditions, manifest as long delays in activity onset after light offset, severely reduces the amplitude of the diurnal rhythm of plasma corticosterone. Such a pronounced reduction in the glucocorticoid rhythm may alter rhythmic gene expression in the central nervous system and in peripheral organs contributing to an array of potential pathophysiologies.

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<![CDATA[Alternative Splicing of Barley Clock Genes in Response to Low Temperature]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989daf4ab0ee8fa60bc275a

Alternative splicing (AS) is a regulated mechanism that generates multiple transcripts from individual genes. It is widespread in eukaryotic genomes and provides an effective way to control gene expression. At low temperatures, AS regulates Arabidopsis clock genes through dynamic changes in the levels of productive mRNAs. We examined AS in barley clock genes to assess whether temperature-dependent AS responses also occur in a monocotyledonous crop species. We identify changes in AS of various barley core clock genes including the barley orthologues of Arabidopsis AtLHY and AtPRR7 which showed the most pronounced AS changes in response to low temperature. The AS events modulate the levels of functional and translatable mRNAs, and potentially protein levels, upon transition to cold. There is some conservation of AS events and/or splicing behaviour of clock genes between Arabidopsis and barley. In addition, novel temperature-dependent AS of the core clock gene HvPPD-H1 (a major determinant of photoperiod response and AtPRR7 orthologue) is conserved in monocots. HvPPD-H1 showed a rapid, temperature-sensitive isoform switch which resulted in changes in abundance of AS variants encoding different protein isoforms. This novel layer of low temperature control of clock gene expression, observed in two very different species, will help our understanding of plant adaptation to different environments and ultimately offer a new range of targets for plant improvement.

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<![CDATA[Relationships between the Circadian System and Alzheimer's Disease-Like Symptoms in Drosophila]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989daccab0ee8fa60bb4aca

Circadian clocks coordinate physiological, neurological, and behavioral functions into circa 24 hour rhythms, and the molecular mechanisms underlying circadian clock oscillations are conserved from Drosophila to humans. Clock oscillations and clock-controlled rhythms are known to dampen during aging; additionally, genetic or environmental clock disruption leads to accelerated aging and increased susceptibility to age-related pathologies. Neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease (AD), are associated with a decay of circadian rhythms, but it is not clear whether circadian disruption accelerates neuronal and motor decline associated with these diseases. To address this question, we utilized transgenic Drosophila expressing various Amyloid-β (Aβ) peptides, which are prone to form aggregates characteristic of AD pathology in humans. We compared development of AD-like symptoms in adult flies expressing Aβ peptides in the wild type background and in flies with clocks disrupted via a null mutation in the clock gene period (per01). No significant differences were observed in longevity, climbing ability and brain neurodegeneration levels between control and clock-deficient flies, suggesting that loss of clock function does not exacerbate pathogenicity caused by human-derived Aβ peptides in flies. However, AD-like pathologies affected the circadian system in aging flies. We report that rest/activity rhythms were impaired in an age-dependent manner. Flies expressing the highly pathogenic arctic Aβ peptide showed a dramatic degradation of these rhythms in tune with their reduced longevity and impaired climbing ability. At the same time, the central pacemaker remained intact in these flies providing evidence that expression of Aβ peptides causes rhythm degradation downstream from the central clock mechanism.

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<![CDATA[Mice Deficient of Glutamatergic Signaling from Intrinsically Photosensitive Retinal Ganglion Cells Exhibit Abnormal Circadian Photoentrainment]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989dae1ab0ee8fa60bbbf94

Several aspects of behavior and physiology, such as sleep and wakefulness, blood pressure, body temperature, and hormone secretion exhibit daily oscillations known as circadian rhythms. These circadian rhythms are orchestrated by an intrinsic biological clock in the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) of the hypothalamus which is adjusted to the daily environmental cycles of day and night by the process of photoentrainment. In mammals, the neuronal signal for photoentrainment arises from a small subset of intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells (ipRGCs) that send a direct projection to the SCN. ipRGCs also mediate other non-image-forming (NIF) visual responses such as negative masking of locomotor activity by light, and the pupillary light reflex (PLR) via co-release of neurotransmitters glutamate and pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating peptide (PACAP) from their synaptic terminals. The relative contribution of each neurotransmitter system for the circadian photoentrainment and other NIF visual responses is still unresolved. We investigated the role of glutamatergic neurotransmission for circadian photoentrainment and NIF behaviors by selective ablation of ipRGC glutamatergic synaptic transmission in mice. Mutant mice displayed delayed re-entrainment to a 6 h phase shift (advance or delay) in the light cycle and incomplete photoentrainment in a symmetrical skeleton photoperiod regimen (1 h light pulses between 11 h dark periods). Circadian rhythmicity in constant darkness also was reduced in some mutant mice. Other NIF responses such as the PLR and negative masking responses to light were also partially attenuated. Overall, these results suggest that glutamate from ipRGCs drives circadian photoentrainment and negative masking responses to light.

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<![CDATA[Genetically Blocking the Zebrafish Pineal Clock Affects Circadian Behavior]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989dad2ab0ee8fa60bb69de

The master circadian clock in fish has been considered to reside in the pineal gland. This dogma is challenged, however, by the finding that most zebrafish tissues contain molecular clocks that are directly reset by light. To further examine the role of the pineal gland oscillator in the zebrafish circadian system, we generated a transgenic line in which the molecular clock is selectively blocked in the melatonin-producing cells of the pineal gland by a dominant-negative strategy. As a result, clock-controlled rhythms of melatonin production in the adult pineal gland were disrupted. Moreover, transcriptome analysis revealed that the circadian expression pattern of the majority of clock-controlled genes in the adult pineal gland is abolished. Importantly, circadian rhythms of behavior in zebrafish larvae were affected: rhythms of place preference under constant darkness were eliminated, and rhythms of locomotor activity under constant dark and constant dim light conditions were markedly attenuated. On the other hand, global peripheral molecular oscillators, as measured in whole larvae, were unaffected in this model. In conclusion, characterization of this novel transgenic model provides evidence that the molecular clock in the melatonin-producing cells of the pineal gland plays a key role, possibly as part of a multiple pacemaker system, in modulating circadian rhythms of behavior.

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<![CDATA[The Circadian Regulation of Sleep: Impact of a Functional ADA-Polymorphism and Its Association to Working Memory Improvements]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da04ab0ee8fa60b75230

Sleep is regulated in a time-of-day dependent manner and profits working memory. However, the impact of the circadian timing system as well as contributions of specific sleep properties to this beneficial effect remains largely unexplored. Moreover, it is unclear to which extent inter-individual differences in sleep-wake regulation depend on circadian phase and modulate the association between sleep and working memory. Here, sleep electroencephalography (EEG) was recorded during a 40-h multiple nap protocol, and working memory performance was assessed by the n-back task 10 times before and after each scheduled nap sleep episode. Twenty-four participants were genotyped regarding a functional polymorphism in adenosine deaminase (rs73598374, 12 G/A-, 12 G/G-allele carriers), previously associated with differences in sleep-wake regulation. Our results indicate that genotype-driven differences in sleep depend on circadian phase: heterozygous participants were awake longer and slept less at the end of the biological day, while they exhibited longer non rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep and slow wave sleep concomitant with reduced power between 8–16 Hz at the end of the biological night. Slow wave sleep and NREM sleep delta EEG activity covaried positively with overall working memory performance, independent of circadian phase and genotype. Moreover, REM sleep duration benefitted working memory particularly when occurring in the early morning hours and specifically in heterozygous individuals. Even though based on a small sample size and thus requiring replication, our results suggest genotype-dependent differences in circadian sleep regulation. They further indicate that REM sleep, being under strong circadian control, boosts working memory performance according to genotype in a time-of-day dependent manner. Finally, our data provide first evidence that slow wave sleep and NREM sleep delta activity, majorly regulated by sleep homeostatic mechanisms, is linked to working memory independent of the timing of the sleep episode within the 24-h cycle.

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<![CDATA[Genome-Wide Association Analyses in 128,266 Individuals Identifies New Morningness and Sleep Duration Loci]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db09ab0ee8fa60bc974f

Disrupted circadian rhythms and reduced sleep duration are associated with several human diseases, particularly obesity and type 2 diabetes, but until recently, little was known about the genetic factors influencing these heritable traits. We performed genome-wide association studies of self-reported chronotype (morning/evening person) and self-reported sleep duration in 128,266 white British individuals from the UK Biobank study. Sixteen variants were associated with chronotype (P<5x10-8), including variants near the known circadian rhythm genes RGS16 (1.21 odds of morningness, 95% CI [1.15, 1.27], P = 3x10-12) and PER2 (1.09 odds of morningness, 95% CI [1.06, 1.12], P = 4x10-10). The PER2 signal has previously been associated with iris function. We sought replication using self-reported data from 89,283 23andMe participants; thirteen of the chronotype signals remained associated at P<5x10-8 on meta-analysis and eleven of these reached P<0.05 in the same direction in the 23andMe study. We also replicated 9 additional variants identified when the 23andMe study was used as a discovery GWAS of chronotype (all P<0.05 and meta-analysis P<5x10-8). For sleep duration, we replicated one known signal in PAX8 (2.6 minutes per allele, 95% CI [1.9, 3.2], P = 5.7x10-16) and identified and replicated two novel associations at VRK2 (2.0 minutes per allele, 95% CI [1.3, 2.7], P = 1.2x10-9; and 1.6 minutes per allele, 95% CI [1.1, 2.2], P = 7.6x10-9). Although we found genetic correlation between chronotype and BMI (rG = 0.056, P = 0.05); undersleeping and BMI (rG = 0.147, P = 1x10-5) and oversleeping and BMI (rG = 0.097, P = 0.04), Mendelian Randomisation analyses, with limited power, provided no consistent evidence of causal associations between BMI or type 2 diabetes and chronotype or sleep duration. Our study brings the total number of loci associated with chronotype to 22 and with sleep duration to three, and provides new insights into the biology of sleep and circadian rhythms in humans.

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<![CDATA[Temporal change of photophobic step-up responses of Euglena gracilis investigated through motion analysis]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db50ab0ee8fa60bdbd4d

The adaptation to a strong light is one of the essential characteristics of green algae, yet lacking relatively the information about the photophobic responses of Eukaryotic microalgae. We investigated the photophobic step-up responses of Euglena gracilis over a time course of several hours with alternated repetition of blue-light pulse illumination and spatially patterned blue-light illumination. Four distinctive photophobic motions in response to strong blue light were identified in a trace image analysis, namely on-site rotation, running and tumbling, continuous circular swimming, and unaffected straightforward swimming. The cells cultured in autotrophic conditions under weak light showed mainly the on-site rotation response at the beginning of blue-light illumination, but they acquired more blue-light tolerant responses of running and tumbling, circular swimming, or straightforward swimming. The efficiency of escaping from a blue-light illuminated area improved markedly with the development of these photophobic motions. Time constant of 3.0 h was deduced for the evolution of photophobic responses of E. gracilis. The nutrient-rich metabolic status of the cells resulting from photosynthesis during the experiments, i.e., the accumulation of photosynthesized nutrient products in balance between formation and consumption, was the main factor responsible for the development of photophobic responses. The reduction-oxidation status in and around E. gracilis cells did not affect their photophobic responses significantly, unlike the case of photophobic responses and phototaxis of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii cells. This study shows that the evolution of photophobic motion type of E. gracilis is dominated mainly by the nutrient metabolic status of the cells. The fact suggests that the nutrient-rich cells have a higher threshold for switching the flagellar motion from straightforward swimming to rotation under a strong light.

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<![CDATA[Social Experience Is Sufficient to Modulate Sleep Need of Drosophila without Increasing Wakefulness]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db07ab0ee8fa60bc8a07

Organisms quickly learn about their surroundings and display synaptic plasticity which is thought to be critical for their survival. For example, fruit flies Drosophila melanogaster exposed to highly enriched social environment are found to show increased synaptic connections and a corresponding increase in sleep. Here we asked if social environment comprising a pair of same-sex individuals could enhance sleep in the participating individuals. To study this, we maintained individuals of D. melanogaster in same-sex pairs for a period of 1 to 4 days, and after separation, monitored sleep of the previously socialized and solitary individuals under similar conditions. Males maintained in pairs for 3 or more days were found to sleep significantly more during daytime and showed a tendency to fall asleep sooner as compared to solitary controls (both measures together are henceforth referred to as “sleep-enhancement”). This sleep phenotype is not strain-specific as it is observed in males from three different “wild type” strains of D. melanogaster. Previous studies on social interaction mediated sleep-enhancement presumed ‘waking experience’ during the interaction to be the primary underlying cause; however, we found sleep-enhancement to occur without any significant increase in wakefulness. Furthermore, while sleep-enhancement due to group-wise social interaction requires Pigment Dispersing Factor (PDF) positive neurons; PDF positive and CRYPTOCHROME (CRY) positive circadian clock neurons and the core circadian clock genes are not required for sleep-enhancement to occur when males interact in pairs. Pair-wise social interaction mediated sleep-enhancement requires dopamine and olfactory signaling, while visual and gustatory signaling systems seem to be dispensable. These results suggest that socialization alone (without any change in wakefulness) is sufficient to cause sleep-enhancement in fruit fly D. melanogaster males, and that its neuronal control is context-specific.

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<![CDATA[RNA-seq analysis of Drosophila clock and non-clock neurons reveals neuron-specific cycling and novel candidate neuropeptides]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db53ab0ee8fa60bdcdd1

Locomotor activity rhythms are controlled by a network of ~150 circadian neurons within the adult Drosophila brain. They are subdivided based on their anatomical locations and properties. We profiled transcripts “around the clock” from three key groups of circadian neurons with different functions. We also profiled a non-circadian outgroup, dopaminergic (TH) neurons. They have cycling transcripts but fewer than clock neurons as well as low expression and poor cycling of clock gene transcripts. This suggests that TH neurons do not have a canonical circadian clock and that their gene expression cycling is driven by brain systemic cues. The three circadian groups are surprisingly diverse in their cycling transcripts and overall gene expression patterns, which include known and putative novel neuropeptides. Even the overall phase distributions of cycling transcripts are distinct, indicating that different regulatory principles govern transcript oscillations. This surprising cell-type diversity parallels the functional heterogeneity of the different neurons.

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<![CDATA[Positive Feedback Promotes Oscillations in Negative Feedback Loops]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da6bab0ee8fa60b92efa

A simple three-component negative feedback loop is a recurring motif in biochemical oscillators. This motif oscillates as it has the three necessary ingredients for oscillations: a three-step delay, negative feedback, and nonlinearity in the loop. However, to oscillate, this motif under the common Goodwin formulation requires a high degree of cooperativity (a measure of nonlinearity) in the feedback that is biologically “unlikely.” Moreover, this recurring negative feedback motif is commonly observed augmented by positive feedback interactions. Here we show that these positive feedback interactions promote oscillation at lower degrees of cooperativity, and we can thus unify several common kinetic mechanisms that facilitate oscillations, such as self-activation and Michaelis-Menten degradation. The positive feedback loops are most beneficial when acting on the shortest lived component, where they function by balancing the lifetimes of the different components. The benefits of multiple positive feedback interactions are cumulative for a majority of situations considered, when benefits are measured by the reduction in the cooperativity required to oscillate. These positive feedback motifs also allow oscillations with longer periods than that determined by the lifetimes of the components alone. We can therefore conjecture that these positive feedback loops have evolved to facilitate oscillations at lower, kinetically achievable, degrees of cooperativity. Finally, we discuss the implications of our conclusions on the mammalian molecular clock, a system modeled extensively based on the three-component negative feedback loop.

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