In 2001, geneticist Ying-Hui Fu and colleagues identified a mutation in a gene called Per2 that appeared to cause familial advanced sleep-phase syndrome (FASPS).
In 2005, they uncovered another mutation associated with FASPS. And now they say they have found the first genetic mutation in humans that appears to affect sleep duration rather than sleep timing. The mutation lies in DEC2, a gene that codes for a protein that helps turn off expression of other genes, including some that control circadian rhythm, the internal clock that regulates a person's sleep-wake cycle.
The findings, says Fu, could lead to better treatments for sleep disorders.
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