Science has known for decades that biological clocks govern the behavior of everything from humans to lowly bread mold. These ticking timekeepers hold the key to many diseases, annoy passengers on intercontinental flights and can mean life or death for small creatures trying to survive in nature.
Despite the importance of biological clocks, their mechanisms have remained unclear. Now, a team of researchers from the University of Georgia has produced the first working model that explains how biological clocks work.
"When the clock goes awry in mammals, it can lead to many diseases, ranging from cancer and sleep disorders to heart and lung disease," said Jonathan Arnold, a professor in the department of genetics and leader of the research. "It is very important that we know how the clock works at the molecular level."
The research will be published this week in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Arnold's co-authors on the paper were members of a UGA interdisciplinary team, though several have now moved on to other positions. They include: Heinz-Bernd Schuttler, professor of physics and astronomy at UGA; Yihai Yu, a former graduate student in physics, now working in industry; Wubei Dong, a postdoctoral fellow in Arnold's lab in genetics; Cara Altimus, a former UGA undergraduate now a graduate student at Johns Hopkins University; Xiaojia Tang, a doctoral student in Shuttler's lab; James Griffith, Arnold's research coordinator, who is supported by funds from the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences; Melissa Morello, also a former UGA undergrad, now a student at the Medical College of Georgia; and Lisa Dudek, also a former undergraduate in physics and now a graduate student at UCLA.
Because of the importance of biological clocks to survival and health, evolution has built them into an astoundingly diverse array of organisms, including bacteria and humans. These
Contact: Kim Carlyle
University of Georgia