Michael W. Young
The Rockefeller University
Election Year: 2007
Primary Section: 22, Cellular and Developmental Biology
Secondary Section: 26, Genetics
Membership Type: Member
We explore the activities of certain genes that control circadian (daily) rhythms in Drosophila. Screens in our laboratory have identified six genes that are essential to the running of the fly circadian clock. Interactions among these genes, and their proteins, contribute to a network of molecular oscillations within single cells. These ~24 hour oscillations are autonomously generated in a variety of tissues of the fly. Although an association of behavioral rhythms and circadian clocks has been recognized for several decades, our studies show that these clocks also establish rhythmic patterns of gene expression that affect many other facets of physiology and cell biology. The genetic mechanism underlying circadian clocks is conserved within the animal kingdom. So much so that we now appreciate that "clock" genes originally detected in Drosophila regulate patterns of sleep and other rhythms in humans. We are currently studying regulated subcellular movements of some clock proteins that may set the period length of circadian rhythms. We have also begun a study of mutations that alter the duration or timing of rest in Drosophila.