Circadian clock sets the rhythm for our cells’ powerhouses, study

The circadian clock controls rhythmic mitochondrial dynamics and metabolic flux.

The circadian rhythm of roughly 24 hours affects the energy metabolism of mitochondria. (Illustration: University of Basel)
The circadian rhythm of roughly 24 hours affects the energy metabolism of mitochondria. (Illustration: University of Basel)

Cell energy metabolism additionally takes the beat of the circadian clock. A University of Basel study has now demonstrated precisely how this functions by uncovering the connection between the circadian rhythm and the mitochondrial network.

Endless hereditarily controlled clock tick inside various parts of our bodies, for example, the liver, kidneys, and heart. In addition to other things, they start numerous metabolic procedures, guaranteeing that these happen at the ideal time of day. Mitochondria – small organelles that exist in almost all our cells, plays an important role in these cellular processes. Until now, it was indistinct how precisely the 24-hour circadian musicality directed vitality digestion.

Researchers have now investigated exactly how the mitochondrial network interacts with our internal biological clock by using a combination of in vitro models and clock-deficient mice or mice with impaired mitochondrial fission.

They found that the mitochondrial fission-fusion cycle is controlled by the fission protein Drp1, which is in turn synchronized by an internal biological clock. This rhythm is essential to deciding when and how much vitality the mitochondria can supply.

Study leader Professor Anne Eckert said, “The time of day determines the design of the mitochondrial network, and this, in turn, influences the cells’ energy capacity.”

If the circadian clock is impaired, the mitochondrial network tends to lose its rhythm that thus leads to reduced energy production in the cells. Likewise, impairing the Drp1 fission protein upsets the energy production rhythm affects the rhythm of the circadian clock.

According to scientists, the study could offer new therapeutic approaches; for example, for diseases that are characterized by an impaired circadian clock and compromised mitochondrial function, such as Alzheimer’s.

The study was published in the journal Cell Metabolism.