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Lab Reports
April 4, 2017

Circadian Clock Boosts Stress-Response Genes During Aging

JAMA. 2017;317(13):1307. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.3108

Circadian rhythms that regulate various processes in the body rely on the oscillating expression of circadian clock genes over approximately 24-hour periods, and circadian disruption is known to compromise health in a wide range of organisms. Researchers have now uncovered information that may help explain how the circadian clock protects against the damaging effects of aging.

The team, led by investigators at Oregon State University, discovered that certain genes exhibit rhythmic expression throughout the day in old, but not young, Drosophila melanogaster flies. Many of these genes, termed late-life cyclers, were associated with responses to oxidative stress, which increases with aging and causes cellular damage. The late-life cyclers were also rhythmically induced in young flies that were under constant exposure to oxidative stress. At least 25 such genes become rhythmic with age, and the functions of some remain unclear.