Researchers from The University of Manchester have discovered a new mechanism that governs how body clocks react to changes in the environment. And the discovery, which is being published in Current Biology
, could provide a solution for alleviating the detrimental effects of chronic shift work and jet-lag.
The team's findings reveal that the enzyme casein kinase 1epsilon (CK1epsilon) controls how easily the body's clockwork can be adjusted or reset by environmental cues such as light and temperature.
Internal biological timers (circadian clocks) are found in almost every species on the planet. In mammals including humans, circadian clocks are found in most cells and tissues of the body, and orchestrate daily rhythms in our physiology, including our sleep/wake patterns and metabolism.
Dr David Bechtold, who led The University of Manchester's research team, said: "At the heart of these clocks are a complex set of molecules whose interaction provides robust and precise 24 hour timing. Importantly, our clocks are kept in synchrony with the environment by being responsive to light and dark information."
This work, funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, was undertaken by a team from The University of Manchester in collaboration with scientists from Pfizer led by Dr Travis Wager.