Physiology and Functional Genomics 2022

Human muscle clocks and disease

Faculty Mentor’s Name: Karyn Esser
Email: kaesser@ufl.edu
Phone Number: (352) 273-5728
Project Category: Translational
International Component or Travel: No

Research Project Description:

Circadian clocks regulate a daily program of gene expression in virtually all cells throughout the body. Our lab has shown, with genetic mouse models, that disruption of the circadian clock in skeletal muscle leads to insulin resistance and muscle weakness. We are interested in translating this to humans to address questions about the impact of aging and metabolic disease on the circadian clock mechanism in human cells. This project will define circadian clock properties in vitro using human primary muscle cells obtained from subjects of different ages and health status. The methods include cell culture, use of lentiviral vectors to transduce the human cells, real-time bioluminesence recording and data analysis using circadian software packages. We also propose to electrically stimulate the muscle cell cultures, inducing contraction to address the impact of exercise on human clock function.

Leveraging Sleep/Wake Homeostasis to Improve Physiology and Health

Faculty Mentor’s Name: Dr. Andrew Liu
Email: andrew.liu@ufl.edu
Phone Number: (352) 294-8900
Project Category: Basic
International Component or Travel: No

Research Project Description:

Sleep homeostasis is critical for physiology and health. In mammals, the sleep/wake cycle is regulated by a master circadian clock in the brain, and more specifically, the hypothalamus. Circadian disruption has been associated with various sleep, metabolic and neuropsychiatric disorders. The long-term goal of our research is to identify the genetic, environmental, and pharmacological factors that impact the circadian and sleep systems. Of particular relevance, our recent studies identified the mTOR and NF-kB pathways that link nutrient sensing, metabolic and protein homeostasis, and inflammation to circadian clock function. The project will investigate how these genes and pathways affect sleep/wake homeostasis. This research will involve using genetic mouse models and neurobehavioral approaches to assess locomotor behavior, sleep/wake states, and neurocognitive and psychiatric functions. This research uses genetics, molecular biology, and genomics approaches to study how the different cell types and regions in the brain contribute to sleep/wake regulation. We will also consider treatment regimens such as time-restricted feeding and pharmacological agents to improve sleep physiology. This research has broad implications in diseases and chronic conditions where sleep/wake disturbance represents both a culprit of pathogenesis and a target for therapeutic intervention and prevention.