Genetics of Hunger and Sleep|
Genetics of Hunger and Sleep
In the November 15th issue of G&D, Drs. Devanjan Sikder and Thomas Kodadek (UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas) identify that the protein HIF-1 mediates the regulatory effects of the neurotransmitters Orexin A and B on appetite and wakefulness. The scientists show that orexin upregulates HIF1 (both by inducing its transcription and by decreasing the levels of its antagonist, VHL). Dr. Kodadek commented that "HIF1 activity mainly acts to manipulate cellular energy metabolism. So this surprising connection between orexin and HIF-1 argues that narcolepsy, which is a disease of orexin deficiency, is actually a metabolic disease caused by an energy imbalance in neurons."
Genome-Wide RNAi Screen for Regulators of Aging
Also in the November 15th issue of G&D, Dr. Gary Ruvkun (Harvard Medical School) and colleagues present the first genome-wide RNAi screen to identify genes that normally delay the onset of aging in C. elegans deficient in the insulin signaling component, daf-2. While previous studies have focused upon genes that extend lifespan when inactivated, this study revolves around genes whose function normally declines throughout life and therefore underlie the aging process. The researchers identified roughly 100 new aging genes – most of which are conserved in other animals, including humans. Dr. Ruvkun is confident that “Because humans and worms share about half their genes, it is likely that many of the human counterparts to these worm genes are important in human lifespan as well.”
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