Scientists explore the secrets of the biological clock

Scientists explore the secrets of the biological clock

Release date: 2007-04-17

Scientists explore the secrets of the operation of the circadian clock from an interdisciplinary research team at Vanderbilt University. After analyzing the simplest biological clock to date, they analyzed the secret of the ticking of the circadian clock. Their research results were published on March 27 In the magazine "Public Library of Science Biology".
The circadian clock is a pacing point at the microscopic level. It exists in all living things, from green algae to humans, and arranges intricate biochemical processes in an orderly manner. A traveler, if his/her inner clock is out of sync with the environment, he/she will experience the pain of jet lag. In fact, when a person's circadian clock has an obstacle (such as adapting to a changing work cycle), there are many types of physiological disorders, such as seasonal affective disorder, some depression, sleep disorders, and so on. Modern research shows that these molecular clocks are also importantly associated with cancer.
In 2005, researchers from Japan unveiled an astonishing discovery: three proteins in blue-green algae make up the circadian clock, when the blue-green algae are in a test tube containing adenosine triphosphate, the energy required for biological reactions. They can build a 24-hour cycle independently.
“That was a really big surprise,” said Carl Johnson, a professor of biological sciences, who is the organizer of the new study. “We used to think that this system is definitely more complicated and requires feedback from genetic machines to be normal. jobs."
Although this circadian clock has only three basic components, KaiA, KaiB, and KaiC, when they began to analyze what was happening in the test tube, they found that the mechanism exceeded their expectations.
“The most fascinating thing is that such a simple biological machine can do such an important function, it can keep the time rhythm,” said researcher Williams excitedly. “It is the most interesting biology I have ever encountered. problem."
The largest of the three proteins is KaiC, which is a combination of six identical components that look like a bucket. With the circulation of day and night, the number of phosphate groups around the KaiC molecule increases and decreases regularly. The binding and detachment of phosphate groups, to be precise, phosphorylation and dephosphorylation, is a common method of regulating protein function. In the state of phosphorylation and dephosphorylation, KaiC selects different protein interactions in cells. This allows the circadian clock to intermittently open and close many cytological processes.
In previous studies, Johnson and colleagues had some understanding of the other two smaller proteins. They know that when KaiA binds to KaiC, the rate of phosphorylation increases, probably because it promotes the binding of the phosphate group to the hexamer KaiC, or it may slow down the rate at which the phosphate group dissociates from KaiC. Unlike the effect of KaiA, KaiB does not normally bind to KaiC, but it binds when KaiC is highly phosphorylated and binds against KaiA. —— Information from: Meditech Medical Network

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