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Research finds that circadian rhythms dominate all life functions

New research from Colorado State University shows that the function of all genes in mammals is based on circadian -- or daily -- rhythms. The study, publishing in PLoS Computational Biology on June 15, refutes the current theory that only 10 percent to 15 percent of all genes were affected by nature's clock. While scientists have long known that circadian rhythms regulate the behavior of the living, the study shows that daily rhythm dominates all life functions and particularly metabolism. The new study presents oscillation as a basic property of all genes in the organism as opposed to special function of some genes as previously believed.

Knowing about oscillation properties of genes involved in metabolism is essential for understanding how genes interact with and regulate health and disease. Colorado State University researcher Andrey Ptitsyn's new analysis of data collected through several studies establishes a baseline oscillation in 98 to 99 percent of all genes through advanced computer algorithms. Most of these genes have never been previously reported as changing their expression level in a daily cycle. Some of these genes, considered "housekeeping," have been used as a stable reference platform in gene expression studies.

"Anyone who diets, for example, knows you shouldn't eat late, and now we are getting closer to understanding why exactly," said Ptitsyn, a researcher in the Bioinformatics Center at the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. The center is located in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology. "We discovered that all genes have a significant change in pattern of activity -- or expression -- throughout the day. Every pathway of gene expression is affected by circadian rhythms, and the timing of the rhythms from each group of genes that are synchronized is important."

Ptitsyn also discovered alternative short and long copies of some genes oscillating in the opposite phase. These ge
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Source:Public Library of Science


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