Researchers identify structure of circadian clock protein

Brian Zoltowski, chemistry professor at SMU's Dedman School of Humanities and Sciences, is the lead author of a study to identify the circadian rhythm protein in fruit flies that may eventually lead to discoveries for circadian rhythm functions in higher organisms, including humans.

By Krishna Ramanujan

Cornell researchers have identified for the first time the 3-D crystal structure of a protein in fruit flies (Drosophila) that also facilitates circadian rhythm functions in most higher organisms -- from cyanobacteria and plants to animals, including humans.

The study appears in the Nov. 13 issue of the journal Nature.

While the mechanisms of circadian -- or biological -- clocks are complex in humans, many of their key components are shared by such lower species as Drosophila, which serve as a model organism for understanding circadian rhythms....

Brian Zoltowski, Ph.D. '08, currently an assistant professor at Southern Methodist University, is the paper's lead author.