A Brief History of the Earliest Circadian Rhythm Gene

The First Circadian Genes

Before your circadian genes were discovered they were first discovered in the fruit fly.  Mutant fruit flies with damaged circadian genes lost their behavior.   They had abnormal sleep and wake cycles and hatched at the wrong times!  This was a hoorah moment in the field of circadian biology, as this was the first time scientists had discovered a gene that affected behavior!

Damaged Fruit Fly Circadian Genes

These fruit flies, with a damaged circadian gene, or clock gene, couldn’t keep track of time.  They had no ability to know if it was day or night, and this is critically important for a fruit fly’s development and survival.  Flies that don’t hatch at the right time, don’t survive.  Flies that don’t sleep and wake at the right time also don’t survive  These mutant flies, hatched not in the morning like they were supposed to, when the temperature is ideal for finding food.  Instead, they hatched at all different times of day and night.  They stayed awake when they were supposed to be sleeping and slept when they were supposed to be foraging.

Circadian Genes Help Humans Anticipate

These damaged flies, lost all of their ability to Anticipate.  Timekeeping genes are so critical because they dictate when hatching, feeding, sleeping, and activity are supposed to occur.  This spurred the search for this gene in humans.  A circadian rhythm or clock gene is in a sense an oracle to predicting what will come next, and our bodies being prepared for just that moment.  Your body’s circadian system can only be damaged if you expose yourself to light and food at the wrong times. If you’re able to train these genes of your to Anticipate everything at the right moment, they function optimally for you.  In humans, we now know that metabolism is one of the greatest feats your circadian genes can control for you, and most of us, are under utilizing those genes.  It just takes a little change in lifestyle to synchronize them!

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