After a 10-Year Search, Scientists Find a Second ‘Short Sleep’ Gene, DEC2

Sleep is crucial for our survival, and many diseases are linked to long-term poor sleep quality. Before we can use sleep to enhance our health and performance and alleviate diseases associated with poor sleep, a greater understanding of sleep regulation is necessary. Researchers had identified a while ago a mutation in the β 1-adrenergic receptor gene (ADRB1) in humans who require fewer hours of sleep than most. In vitro, this mutation leads to decreased protein stability and dampened signaling in response to agonist treatment. In vivo, the mice carrying the same mutation demonstrated short sleep behavior. The scientists found that this receptor is highly expressed in the dorsal pons and that these ADRB1 + neurons are active during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and wakefulness. Activating these neurons can lead to wakefulness, and the activity of these neurons is affected by the mutation. These results highlight the important role of β 1-adrenergic receptors in sleep/wake regulation.

 

 

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