To determine whether a similar mechanism may exist in humans, Prof. Gothilf and his fellow researchers isolated and tested the human LRM and inserted it into zebrafish cells. In these fish cells, the human LRM behaved in exactly the same way, activating Period2 when exposed to light and unveiling a fascinating connection between humans and the two-inch-long fish.
Shedding new light on circadian systems and the brain
Zebrafish and humans could have much more in common, Prof. Gothilf says, leading to breakthroughs in human medicine. Unlike rats and mice but like human beings, zebrafish are diurnal awake during the day and asleep at night and they have circadian systems that are active as early as two days after fertilization. This provides an opportunity to manipulate the circadian clock, testing different therapies and medications to advance our understanding of the circadian system and how disruptions, whether caused by biology or lifestyle, can best be treated.
Prof. Gothilf believes this model has further application to brain and biomedical research. Researchers can already manipulate the genetic makeup of zebrafish, for example, to make specific neurons and their synapses (the junctions between neurons in the brain) fluorescent easy to see and track. "Synapses can be actually counted. This kind of accessible model can be used in research into degenerative brain disorders," he note
|Contact: George Hunka|
American Friends of Tel Aviv University