Call us today: London office:0333 335 5470 / Hull office:08448 849041 | Follow us online:

Genes That Regulate How Much an Animal Sleeps Identified

adorable-1238263_1920 (1)

Sleep is known to allow animals to re-energize themselves and consolidate memories. Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, a mysterious stage of sleep where animals dream, is known to play an important role in maintaining a healthy mental and physical life, but the molecular mechanisms behind this state are barely understood.

Now, an international research team led by researchers at the RIKEN Centre for Biosystems Dynamics Research has identified a pair of genes that regulate how much REM and non-REM sleep an animal experiences.

Sleep is a universal and vital behaviour in animals. In higher vertebrates such as mammals and birds, sleep is classified into two phases, REM sleep and non-REM sleep.

Now, however, a research team led by Hiroki Ueda at RIKEN BDR and The University of Tokyo has identified two essential genes involved in the regulation of REM sleep. The amount of REM sleep was drastically decreased down to almost undetectable levels when both genes were knocked out in a mouse model.

“The surprising finding that mice are viable despite the almost complete loss of REM sleep will allow us to rigorously verify whether REM sleep plays a crucial role in fundamental biological functions such as learning and memory” Yasutaka Niwa, the co-first author of this article, said.

These findings strongly suggest that these two receptors are essential for sleep regulation, especially REM sleep, and function in different ways.

“The discovery that Chrm1 and Chrm3 play a key role in REM sleep opens the way to studying its underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms and will eventually allow us to define the state of REM sleep, which has been paradoxical and mysterious since its original report,” Ueda said.

Back to Posts
Copyright © S3 Science 2020. All rights reserved.