Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

Perchance, Two Genes

Using CRISPR-based gene editing, Riken researchers reporting in Cell Reports have narrowed in on two acetylcholine receptor-coding genes — Chrm1 and Chrm3 — that seem to contribute to dream-related rapid eye movement (REM) sleep in mammals.

The team systematically knocked out mouse acetylcholine receptor genes, Stephanie Pappas explains in Live Science, uncovering a role for the Chrm1 and Chrm3 muscarinic acetylcholine receptor genes in sleep duration and REM sleep. On the other hand, the nicotinic family of acetylcholine receptors "didn't have much to do with sleep."

"Understanding the specific receptors that control sleep can inform new treatments for psychiatric disorders like depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, which is often marked by vivid nightmares," Pappas writes.

In Vice's Motherboard, Daniel Oberhaus says the study clarifies some aspects of acetylcholine signaling in REM sleep. "Due to the abundance of acetylcholine released during both wakefulness and sleep and the complexity of the neural networks regulating sleep," he writes, it was previously difficult to make out "just which acetylcholine receptors were involved in regulating REM sleep."

The Scan

RNA Editing in Octopuses Seems to Help Acclimation to Shifts in Water Temperature

A paper in Cell reports that octopuses use RNA editing to help them adjust to different water temperatures.

Topical Compound to Block EGFR Inhibitors May Ease Skin Toxicities, Study Finds

A topical treatment described in Science Translational Medicine may limit skin toxicities seen with EGFR inhibitor therapy.

Dozen Genetic Loci Linked to Preeclampsia Risk in New GWAS

An analysis of genome-wide association study data in JAMA Cardiology finds genetic loci linked to preeclampsia that have ties to blood pressure.

Cancer Survival Linked to Mutational Burden in Pan-Cancer Analysis

A pan-cancer paper appearing in JCO Precision Oncology suggests tumor mutation patterns provide clues for predicting cancer survival that are independent of other prognostic factors.