Daily (circadian) rhythms control multiple aspects of human behavior and physiology (e.g. sleep, body temperature) and disruption of these rhythms can either cause or affect the severity of most neurological diseases, such as stroke and sleep disorders. These circadian rhythms are driven by clocks in our brain and body that can be entrained by daily light and/or temperature cycles. Molecular mechanisms comprising these light-entrained clocks in humans and most model organisms studied are well known, but how temperature information controls these clocks is unclear.
Our previous research has established the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans as a powerful new model system to study temperature control of the circadian clock. C. elegans is a well-established system to study temperature responses; it has a well-mapped brain circuitry that senses small changes in temperature, and exhibits circadian behavior induced by temperature cycles.
This project uses genetic, molecular and imaging approaches in C. elegans to investigate the mechanisms underlying temperature control of the circadian clock. We are developing and using imaging systems for long-term recording and quantification of circadian gene expression and behavior in C. elegans.
Findings from this project will aid in understanding the neural pathways that process and integrate temperature signals to the clock. Understanding the inner workings of the circadian clock in great depth and the impacts on circadian time keeping should provide us with new avenues of treatment or prevention of consequences of disrupted circadian timing in neurological diseases.