Scientists have discovered new genes for sleep and insomnia

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Scientists have discovered new genes for sleep and insomnia

This discovery could pave the way for new treatments for insomnia and other sleep disorders.

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Researchers at Texas A&M University, the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) used genomics of a person to identify a new genetic pathway involved in the regulation of sleep, writes Neuroscience.

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Texas geneticist and evolutionary biologist Alex Keen collaborated with Allan Pak, Philip Herman, and Struan Grant on groundbreaking research. “There has been a huge amount of effort to use human genome research to find sleep genes,” Keane said.

“Some studies involve hundreds of thousands of people. But validation and testing in animal models is critical to understanding the mechanisms. We achieved this goal, mainly because each of us brought our expertise from different areas, which ensured the most effective collaboration.”

Kin says that the most interesting thing about the team's work is that they developed the pipeline by starting not with a model organism, but with real human genomics data.

“There are many human genome-wide association studies (GWAS) that identify genetic variants associated with sleep in humans,” said Keene. “However, testing them was a huge challenge. Our team used a genomic approach called variant-to-gene matching to predict the genes affected by each genetic variant. We then tested these genes in fruit flies.”

” Our research showed that mutations in the Pig-Q gene, which is required for protein biosynthesis, increase sleep.Then we tested this in a vertebrate model, zebrafish, and found a similar effect.Therefore, in humans, flies, and zebrafish, Pig-Q is associated with sleep regulation”.

Keene says the team's next step will be to study the role of a common protein modification, GPI anchor biosynthesis, in regulating sleep. In addition, he notes that the team's pipeline from humans to fruit flies and zebrafish will allow them to functionally evaluate not only sleep genes, but also other traits commonly studied using human GWAS, including neurodegeneration, aging, and memory.

“Understanding how genes regulate sleep, and the role of this pathway in sleep regulation, could inform future discoveries in the field of sleep and sleep disorders such as insomnia,” said Herman, assistant professor of clinical psychology at Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania and a clinical psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania. Institute of Chronobiology and Sleep.

“Moving forward, we will continue to use and study this system to identify more genes that regulate sleep, which may point the way for new treatments for sleep disorders.”

Keene's research at his laboratory, affiliated with the Center for Biological Clock Research, is at the intersection of evolution and neuroscience, focusing on understanding neural mechanisms, the evolutionary basis of sleep, memory formation, and other behavioral functions in fly and fish models.

In particular, the scientist studies fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster) and Mexican cave fish, which have lost their sight and ability to sleep, in order to identify genetic oh the basics of behavioral choices that affect human diseases, including obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.