Nocturnin is an enzyme that impacts our metabolism and our behavior according to the body’s needs. However being aware of some aspects such as the fact that the level of Nocturnin fluctuates throughout the day, scientists did not know exactly what function it has inside the cells.
Previously, it was thought that it has the role of turning on or off cellular metabolism, through degrading the cellular messages made of RNA, theory that was discredited later on by a team of specialists from University of Michigan, a group from the University of Minnesota, and Korennykh’s that discovered that the enzyme is actually not able to cleave RNAs.
To uncover how Nocturnin can have such strong effect of the metabolism, the team conducted a study which led to the conclusion that the role of this enzyme in our organisms is more direct that it was previously believed.
Scientists Uncovered the Mysterious Role of Nocturnin Inside Cells
In fact, the enzyme actually regulates several metabolites that play an essential role in energy production, and that it gives cells protection from potential damage. Moreover, it is now known that Nocturnin is found in the mitochondria.
The study finds out that the enzyme up-regulation that happens when we wake up might induce the production of energy into high gear through the providence of more NAD+ and NADH, which have a crucial role into the functioning of metabolic enzymes. The team also managed to prove how the reaction supported by Nocturnin occurs at atomic levels.
Last but not least, the study uncovers the fact that the fruit fly version of this enzyme is not able to degrade RNA as well. This enzyme, named Curled, also targets NADP+ and NADPH, similar to human Nocturnin. Thomas Hunt Morgan, a successful geneticist, was the first one to describe the Curled gene 100 years ago, proving that these genes are carried on chromosomes. He won a Nobel Prize for this demonstration.