Deb Bell-Pedersen Lab 2016-12-13T17:04:42+00:00

HOWDY!  We are studying the mechanisms by which an internal clock, called the circadian clock, regulates daily rhythms in gene expression and behavior. The circadian clock is an intrinsic time-tracking system, present in almost all organisms from bacteria to humans, that provides a way for the organism to predict and prepare for changes that occur in the environment, providing an adaptive advantage. In humans, the clock impacts many aspects of our lives, ranging from the regulation of our sleep/wake cycle, to cell division, and rhythms in gene expression. Therefore, it is not surprising that defects in the clock are associated with a wide range of diseases, such as mental disorders, metabolic syndrome, and cancer. To unravel this complex mechanism, we use a simple model organism, a fungus called Neurospora crassa, to study the clock. We use molecular, biochemical, genetic, and genomic techniques to tease apart the clock mechanism. Neurospora displays a daily rhythm in the development of spores, and rhythms in about 20% of genes that are expressed in the organism. The fungal clock is fundamentally the same as the clock in humans; therefore, unraveling its molecular and biochemical mechanism will likely lead to new approaches to treat circadian disorders, and illnesses associated with jet lag and shift work.

Circadian Rhythms in Humans