Navigation Links
Circadian clock research may enable designer plants, and cancer and diabetes treatments
Date:8/23/2012

How does a plant know when to sprout a leaf, fold its petals or bloom? Why do humans experience jet lag after a trip abroad?

The answer is the internal circadian clocks that are present in nearly every organism and that respond to external cues such as light and temperature, says chemist Brian D. Zoltowski, Southern Methodist University.

Zoltowski's lab at SMU studies one of the many proteins involved in an organism's circadian clock. Called a photoreceptor, the protein responds to light to predict time of day and season by measuring day length.

The photoreceptor protein enables plants to know when spring and fall occur and to produce flowers or fruit at the appropriate time of year, says Zoltowski, an assistant professor in SMU's Department of Chemistry. The protein also allows plants to collect energy during the day in the scientific process called photosynthesis, and then refocus energy to grow at night.

Human photoreceptors also are intricately involved in regulation of the body's circadian clocks. They have been implicated in the development of cancer and diabetes, as well as neurological illnesses.

"If we can better understand how these proteins work, we can potentially re-engineer them or develop small molecules to regulate flowering times, plant growth and development," Zoltowski says. "By extension, we can potentially design therapeutics for the human circadian clocks."

The Herman Frasch Foundation for Chemical Research Grants in Agricultural Chemistry awarded Zoltowski a five-year $250,000 agricultural chemistry grant to fund the plant research. The foundation is administered by the American Chemical Society.

A natural 24-hour biological mechanism for regulating the body

The circadian clock is an internal biological mechanism that responds to light, darkness and temperature in a natural 24-hour biological cycle. The clock synchronizes body systems with the environment to regulate everything from sleep patterns and hunger in humans to growth patterns and flowering in plants.

"Our research focuses on understanding the chemical basis for how organisms perceive their surroundings and use light as an environmental cue to regulate growth and development," Zoltowski says.

Zoltowski's research focuses on a family of proteins related to Zeitlupe, a photoreceptor protein that is sensitive to blue light and historically considered responsible for regulating the circadian clock.

"We isolate the protein so we can study directly how it works independent of everything else," Zoltowski says. "So we look at the chemistry that is sensitive to blue light when the blue-light photon is absorbed by the protein. We figure out the chemistry and then how the chemistry changes the structure of the protein."

For example, he says, for a flower to open, light induces a chemical reaction in the protein that alters the way it's configured, which then starts a cascade of interactions that changes the plant's physiology completely.

The researchers use a combination of X-ray crystallography, nuclear magnetic resonance and solution biophysics to identify the fundamental chemical mechanisms of photo-activation, including local chemical events, alteration in protein structure and alteration in protein:protein interactions.

Goal is for discoveries that can regulate a plant's circadian clock

By understanding how the proteins work, scientists can ultimately create new strains of plants that are tolerant to more environments, says Zoltowski. In related research, the study of human proteins can reveal circadian clock irregularities that play a role in diseases such as diabetes by disrupting the release of glucose, for example. From that research, scientists can develop new drug therapeutics to treat the illness.

"We're having great success. We've worked with these families of proteins for a long time, so we have some strategies that improve the likelihood of making it work," Zoltowski says.


'/>"/>

Contact: Margaret Allen
mallen@smu.edu
214-768-7664
Southern Methodist University
Source:Eurekalert  

Related medicine news :

1. Coordinating the circadian clock: Molecular pair controls time-keeping and fat metabolism
2. Blue light helps tired workers and motorists regulate their internal clocks
3. How the brains daily clock controls mood: A new project
4. Research: NCAA football exploits players in invisible labor market
5. Canadian researcher is on a mission to create an equal playing field at the Paralympic Games
6. US risks losing out to Asia in medical research, U-M team warns
7. Dartmouth medical research closes in on new tuberculosis vaccine
8. Research presented at TCT 2012 will have significant impact on interventional cardiology
9. UNH researcher receives $360,000 to study strength training in elderly
10. Cramming for a test? Dont do it, say UCLA researchers
11. Likely voters say presidents first 100 days in office should include plans for research
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Circadian clock research may enable designer plants, and cancer and diabetes treatments
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... ... The American Board of Family Medicine's (ABFM) Board of Directors has selected Warren ... James C. Puffer upon his retirement. Dr. Newton will serve in the position of ... end of 2018. Upon assuming the role of President and CEO on January 1, ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... , ... October 13, 2017 , ... Lori R. Somekh, ... member of ElderCounsel, a national organization of elder law and special needs planning attorneys. ... and rules. It also provides a forum to network with elder law attorneys nationwide,” ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... , ... October 13, 2017 , ... Ellevate Network, the ... business to advocate for action towards gender equality at their inaugural Summit in New ... the globe, and reached a social audience of over 3 million. To watch the ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... October 13, 2017 , ... Coveros, a ... has been awarded a contract by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services ... accelerate the enterprise use of Agile methodologies in a consistent and high value ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... , ... October 12, 2017 , ... ... now treating sleep apnea using cutting-edge Oventus O2Vent technology. As many ... sleep disorder characterized by frequent cessation in breathing. Oral appliances can offer significant ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:9/25/2017)...   Montrium , an industry leader in ... IQPC Trial Master Files & Inspection Readiness Conference ... Clinical Services has selected eTMF Connect ... EastHORN, a leading European contract research organization (CRO), ... to enable greater collaboration with sponsors, improve compliance ...
(Date:9/19/2017)... a venture-backed medical device company developing a non-invasive, robotically assisted, platform therapy that uses pulsed ...   ... Jim Bertolina, ... Tom Tefft ... medical device executive Josh Stopek , PhD, who has led R&D and business development ...
(Date:9/12/2017)... and NEW YORK , Sept. 12, 2017   ... for global supply chains, has published the first annual edition of its ... of more than 20,400 companies evaluated by EcoVadis, based on Scorecard Ratings ... 2016. ... CSR Risk & Performance Index ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: