The time tinker could be used to treat jet lag, produce drugs
Anna H. Chen
A ticking clock in the belly warned Captain Hook of a crocodile’s approach. A different kind of internal clock in gut bacteria may one day prove just as helpful.
Researchers have transplanted a simple circadian clock from cyanobacteria — also known as blue-green algae — into E. coli. The feat, researchers report June 12 in Science Advances, is a first step toward creating organisms that may stave off jet lag or even make drugs on a schedule.
The cyanobacterium Synechococcus elongatus has one of the simplest mechanisms for generating daily, or circadian, rhythms. Its core clock consists of just three proteins: KaiA, KaiB and KaiC. During the day, KaiA prods KaiC to pin a phosphate molecule to itself, so that KaiC is studded with phosphate at dusk. Then at night, KaiB inhibits KaiA, allowing KaiC to strip off its