U of M research discovers link between stress and circadian clock health

September 26, 2019

MINNEAPOLIS, MN- September 26, 2019 - The human body has an internal biological clock that is constantly running. Our well-being is dependent on the function of that clock. New research from the University of Minnesota Medical School found a little stress can make the circadian clock run better and faster.

Research in the past several decades has found that our body has evolved a set of machinery, called the circadian clock, that internally drives rhythms in almost every cell. The activities of the circadian clock are influenced by various signals in the cells.

In a recent study published in Neuron, Ruifeng Cao, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences at the Medical School, and a team of seven laboratories in the U.S. and Canada focused on the crosstalk between cellular stress signals and the circadian clock.

Cells respond to various stress signals by activating a signal transduction cascade that is centered on the protein eIF2α, which is a pivotal factor that orchestrates protein synthesis in cells. Cao and his team found that in one's central brain clock, stress leads to rhythmic phosphorylation of eIF2α, which promotes production of the ATF4 protein. The ATF4 protein activates the Per2 gene, which ultimately makes the clock tick faster. They concluded that this mechanism is necessary to maintain a robust clock, and therefore, that stress signals influence the speed and robustness of the circadian clock.

It has been known that the circadian clock gets broken in many diseases, but the reason for it has been unclear. Cao's finding may provide insight into this unanswered question, as it is the first connection between two fundamental processes in cells: stress response and circadian timekeeping. One explanation could be that stress responses frequently go awry in diseased conditions, which may, in turn, mess up the clock.

"The next step is a more thorough and larger scale study on the crosstalk between the cellular stress network and the circadian clock," said Cao. "Hopefully our work can lead to discovering medicine that can manage the stress level and regulate the clock function in disease to keep people healthier."
-end-
About the University of Minnesota Medical School

The University of Minnesota Medical School is at the forefront of learning and discovery, transforming medical care and educating the next generation of physicians. Our graduates and faculty produce high-impact biomedical research and advance the practice of medicine. Visit med.umn.edu to learn how the University of Minnesota is innovating all aspects of medicine.

University of Minnesota Medical School

Related Stress Articles from Brightsurf:

Stress-free gel
Researchers at The University of Tokyo studied a new mechanism of gelation using colloidal particles.

Early life stress is associated with youth-onset depression for some types of stress but not others
Examining the association between eight different types of early life stress (ELS) and youth-onset depression, a study in JAACAP, published by Elsevier, reports that individuals exposed to ELS were more likely to develop a major depressive disorder (MDD) in childhood or adolescence than individuals who had not been exposed to ELS.

Red light for stress
Researchers from the Institute of Industrial Science at The University of Tokyo have created a biphasic luminescent material that changes color when exposed to mechanical stress.

How do our cells respond to stress?
Molecular biologists reverse-engineer a complex cellular structure that is associated with neurodegenerative diseases such as ALS

How stress remodels the brain
Stress restructures the brain by halting the production of crucial ion channel proteins, according to research in mice recently published in JNeurosci.

Why stress doesn't always cause depression
Rats susceptible to anhedonia, a core symptom of depression, possess more serotonin neurons after being exposed to chronic stress, but the effect can be reversed through amygdala activation, according to new research in JNeurosci.

How plants handle stress
Plants get stressed too. Drought or too much salt disrupt their physiology.

Stress in the powerhouse of the cell
University of Freiburg researchers discover a new principle -- how cells protect themselves from mitochondrial defects.

Measuring stress around cells
Tissues and organs in the human body are shaped through forces generated by cells, that push and pull, to ''sculpt'' biological structures.

Cellular stress at the movies
For the first time, biological imaging experts have used a custom fluorescence microscope and a novel antibody tagging tool to watch living cells undergoing stress.

Read More: Stress News and Stress Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.