How Your Sleep Regulates Body Fat
The enzyme Nocturnin, which governs daily tasks such as fat metabolism and energy usage, reveals the molecular link between the enzyme’s daily fluctuations and its energy-regulating role in the body, according to a study published this week in Nature Communications.
“The realization that Nocturnin works in this manner will guide our thinking about sleep, oxidative stress and metabolism, and eventually may serve as a step toward finding better treatments for metabolic diseases,” said Alexei Korennykh, an associate professor of molecular biology at Princeton, who led the work.
Nocturnin is part of the circadian clock that alters the metabolism and behavior of living organisms to match the body’s needs at different times of the day.
For example, Nocturnin levels fluctuate throughout the day, dramatically peaking when the body first awakens.
Nocturnin is also a critical regulator of metabolism; compared to regular mice, mice lacking the enzyme make less insulin, are protected from fatty liver disease and are less susceptible to weight gain.
Researchers discovered that Nocturnin plays a far more direct role in metabolism than previously appreciated.
“Our work shows that even in the age of genomics and personalized medicine, basic biology still remains to be understood,” Korennykh said.
“In the example of Nocturnin and Curled, a pathway regulating some of the most important molecules in metabolism was hidden in plain sight for the past 100 years.”