And finally, itís our Gene of the Month, and this time itís Spaghetti, a fruit fly gene that may be the missing link between the bodyclock and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimerís. The Spaghetti gene helps to control another gene known as Doubletime, which is involved in controlling the length of a flyís daily circadian rhythm, or body clock. If Spaghetti is missing, levels of Doubletime fall and the flyís natural daily cycle becomes longer. Intriguingly, this also leads to the breakdown of a molecule called Tau, which is associated with neurodegeneration and brain problems similar to dementia in humans.
Although thereís a lot more work to be done to understand the complex clockwork of how circadian rhythms might be linked to dementia, Spaghetti provides an important clue to help untangle the problem.