Published on 14.11.2019

Identification of a new protein that regulates the circadian clock

Scientists at University of Fribourg identified Cycline-Dependent Kinase 5 (CDK5), a protein that regulates many brain functions, as molecular interactors of one of the most important regulators of our circadian rhythm Period2. CDK5 regulates PER2 protein activity and thereby affects many behaviors modulated by PER2, such as mood and other neurological disorders.

Circadian rhythms (“circa diem” i.e. about one day) are physical, mental, and behavioral changes that follow a daily cycle. They respond to stimuli such as light or food intake but are continuously running even in the absence of stimuli. Everybody experiences circadian oscillations. We wake up in the morning, we eat mostly at the same time every day, and we go to sleep approximately at the same hour every night. When we fail to do so, we start to feel uncomfortable and eventually get sick. 

Why is it important?
Many observations suggest how circadian disorders and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and mood related disorders are connected. These findings harbour insights important for potential future treatments.

Accepted for publication in eLIFE on 5.11.2019: Cyclin dependent kinase 5 (CDK5) regulates the circadian clock