News Story

NF Researchers Discover Role for NF1 in Circadian Rhythm Function

Investigators from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, led by Dr. Amita Sehgal, has uncovered that the NF1 gene controls the brain’s perception of time of day signals.
Working in flies, her team previously found that the Nf1 gene is important for establishing and maintaining time of day (circadian) rhythms. However, the circadian clock was normal in Nf1 mutant flies, suggesting that the Nf1 gene might be important for relaying the signals from the clock to other regions of the brain involved in sleep-wake cycling.
In their new study, they demonstrate that the Nf1 gene in flies is critical for the function of multiple different cell types involved in rest/activity rhythms. Moreover, they worked with investigators in Dr. David H. Gutmann’s laboratory to show that the Nf1 gene also controls these daily rhythms in mouse brain cells.
These exciting findings suggest that the Nf1 gene is a key regulator of daily rhythms in fly and mammalian cells relevant to the sleep disturbances common in children and adults with NF1.
Dr. Sehgal’s findings were published in the journal Cell Reports.
Bai L, Lee Y, Hsu CT, Williams JA, Cavanaugh D, Zheng X, Stein C, Haynes P, Wang H, Gutmann DH, Sehgal A. A Conserved Circadian Function for the Neurofibromatosis 1 Gene. Cell Rep. 2018 Mar 27;22(13):3416-3426. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2018.03.014.