Cell 'clocks' study looks at what makes us tick
Anybody who has ever suffered jet lag knows all about the body's internal clock, which is driven by a cluster of brain cells. For years, scientists said our body clock is the activity of certain genes. But in a new study, scientists looked at cells that don't even have genes. And in these red blood cells, they found an enzyme flip-flopping between two forms on a regular 24-hour cycle. Is that a clock? Or is it just responding to some clock? Nobody knows yet, says Akhilesh Reddy of Britain's Cambridge University, who wrote on the subject in today's issue of the journal Nature. Joseph Bass of Northwestern University, who co-wrote a commentary on the work, said the new findings don't overturn the standard notion of a gene-based clock. Still, he said, "our understanding of the clock is expanding with this work and other work."