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Night Shifts, Jet Leg Disrupt Rhythm of Genes

A University of Surrey study has found that the daily rhythms of our genes are disrupted when sleep times shift

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Representational image. Pixabay
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For those who work in night shifts or miss on sleep owing to heavy air travel, it is time to set the clock right to get rhythm of your genes back in shape.

A University of Surrey study has found that the daily rhythms of our genes are disrupted when sleep times shift.

“This research may help us understand the negative health outcomes associated with shift work, jet lag and other conditions in which the rhythms of our genes are disrupted,” said professor Derk-Jan Dijk from the sleep research centre at University of Surrey, England.

Researchers placed 22 participants on a 28-hour day in a controlled environment without a natural light-dark cycle.

As a result, their sleep-wake cycle was delayed by four hours each day.

Genes are a part of DNA/RNA.
Genes- A segment of DNA. Pixabay

The team then collected blood samples to measure the participants’ rhythms of gene expression.

During this disruption of sleep timing, there was a six-fold reduction in the number of genes that displayed a circadian rhythm (internal body clock with 24-hour cycle), said the study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“Over 97 percent of rhythmic genes became out of sync with mistimed sleep and this really explains why we feel so bad during jet lag, or if we have to work irregular shifts,” said co-author Simon Archer from the school of biosciences and medicine.

Also Read: Genes Determining Hair Colour To Boost Cancer Research

The study also revealed which genes may be regulated by sleep-wake cycles and which are regulated by central body clocks.

This finding provides new clues about sleep’s function as separate from the circadian clock.

“The results also imply that sleep-wake schedules can be used to influence rhythmicity in many biological processes, which may be very relevant for conditions in which our body clocks are altered, such as in aging,” added professor Derk-Jan Dijk. (IANS)

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More Than 1000 Gene Variants Linked to Educational Attainment Identified

However, the total influence of the genetic variants is small, explaining about four per cent of the variation in educational attainment across individuals, the scientists said

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Education
The team analysed a combined 71 datasets comprising over 1.1 million participants with European ancestry from 15 different countries and who were least 30 years old. Pixabay

An international team of scientists has identified nearly 1,300 genetic variants associated with how much education someone may complete.

Educational attainment is primarily influenced by environmental and social factors, but it is also influenced by genes associated with, for example, cognitive function such as memory and personality traits such as conscientiousness.

“We found that many of the genes associated with educational attainment are influential in virtually all stages of brain development and in neural communication within the brain,” said Peter Visscher, Professor at the University of Queensland in Australia.

Genetic variants on the X chromosome explain virtually identical amounts of variation in men and women.

This finding, published in the journal Nature Genetics, lends support to the hypothesis that there are no genetically based sex differences in the amount of variation in educational attainment.

genes
Genetic variants on the X chromosome explain virtually identical amounts of variation in men and women. Pixabay

However, the total influence of the genetic variants is small, explaining about four per cent of the variation in educational attainment across individuals, the scientists said.

“Even variants with the largest effects predict, on average, only about three more weeks of schooling in those who have those variants compared to those who don’t,” said Daniel Benjamin, Associate Professor at University of Southern California (USC)- Dornsife.

“Yet, when we analyze the combined effects of many genetic variants, taken together they can predict the length of a person’s formal education as well as demographic factors,” he added.

Also Read: New Link Found Between Alcohol, Genes And Heart Failure

While the new number is far more than the 74 variants initially discovered in a smaller study two years ago, there are many other genetic variants associated with educational attainment that have not yet been identified, the researchers said.

For the study, the team analysed a combined 71 datasets comprising over 1.1 million participants with European ancestry from 15 different countries and who were least 30 years old. (IANS)