Nav: Home

Researchers discover 'daywake,' a siesta-suppressing gene

May 09, 2019

Rutgers researchers have identified a siesta-suppressing gene in fruit flies, which sheds light on the biology that helps many creatures, including humans, balance the benefits of a good nap against those of getting important activities done during the day.

Many animals take midday naps, or siestas, that are more intense on warm days - probably an evolved protection against exposure to the hot noontime sun, according to the study published in the journal Current Biology. In humans, short naps help with memory and learning, but too much daytime sleep is associated with diabetes, Parkinson's and other diseases.

The researchers at Rutgers' Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine found a gene in Drosophila flies that, when temperatures are cool, activates to suppress the flies' tendency to take a daytime nap - presumably so they can spend additional time seeking food or mates. The researchers named the gene "daywake."

"This gene contributes to behavioral flexibility, or the ability to hide from the noontime sun when weather is hot but engage in activities good for survival when the weather is cool. That probably helped these flies expand beyond their ancestral home in equatorial Africa to successfully colonize temperate zones around the world," said co-author Isaac Edery, a professor at the Rutgers center.

Daywake sits adjacent to and slightly overlaps a previously documented gene, called "period," that regulates the flies' circadian clock and governs daily wake-sleep cycles. The researchers found that daywake activity is increased by a specific sequence within the period gene, and that this process happens most efficiently when the flies are exposed to cold temperatures. This process, and daywake's nap-suppression activity, does not affect the flies' nighttime sleep.

"Although the daywake gene is not present in humans, our finding reinforces the idea that nighttime sleep and daytime siesta are governed by distinct mechanisms and serve separate functions for health and survival," Edery said.

The finding that the activities of a sequence in one gene can trigger the action of a nearby gene is itself a novel discovery that promises to reveal new gene regulatory mechanisms in flies and other organisms, Emery said.

The study was co-authored by Yong Yang, formerly of the Rutgers Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine.
-end-


Rutgers University

Related Fruit Flies Articles:

New clues emerge about how fruit flies navigate their world
Janelia Research Campus scientists have uncovered new clues about how fruit flies keep track of where they are in the world.
Frisky female fruit flies become more aggressive towards each other after sex
Female fruit flies start headbutting each other after mating, becoming significantly more aggressive and intolerant Oxford University research has revealed.
What obese fruit flies may tell us about the evolution of cold tolerance
Researchers have hypothesized that migrations into higher, colder latitudes may lead to evolution of fast-burning metabolisms that keep cells warm in chilly conditions.
Fruit flies halt reproduction during infection
A protective mechanism that allows fruit flies to lay fewer eggs in response to bacterial infection is explained in a study published in the journal eLife.
Matching up fruit flies, mushroom toxins and human health
Some fruit flies build up tolerance to the toxin alpha-amanitin; the genetic mechanisms behind this adaptation link to an important metabolic pathway.
More Fruit Flies News and Fruit Flies Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Anthropomorphic
Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#534 Bacteria are Coming for Your OJ
What makes breakfast, breakfast? Well, according to every movie and TV show we've ever seen, a big glass of orange juice is basically required. But our morning grapefruit might be in danger. Why? Citrus greening, a bacteria carried by a bug, has infected 90% of the citrus groves in Florida. It's coming for your OJ. We'll talk with University of Maryland plant virologist Anne Simon about ways to stop the citrus killer, and with science writer and journalist Maryn McKenna about why throwing antibiotics at the problem is probably not the solution. Related links: A Review of the Citrus Greening...