Cryptochrome: The magnetosensor with a sinister side?

PLoS Biol. 2018 Oct 2;16(10):e3000018. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.3000018. eCollection 2018 Oct.

Abstract

Over the last three decades, evidence has emerged that low-intensity magnetic fields can influence biological systems. It is now well established that migratory birds have the capacity to detect the Earth's magnetic field; it has been reported that power lines are associated with childhood leukemia and that pulsed magnetic fields increase the production of reactive oxidative species (ROS) in cellular systems. Justifiably, studies in this field have been viewed with skepticism, as the underlying molecular mechanisms are unknown. In the accompanying paper, Sherrard and colleagues report that low-flux pulsed electromagnetic fields (PEMFs) result in aversive behavior in Drosophila larvae and ROS production in cell culture. They further report that these responses require the presence of cryptochrome, a putative magnetoreceptor. If correct, it is conceivable that carcinogenesis associated with power lines, PEMF-induced ROS generation, and animal magnetoreception share a common mechanistic basis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Comment

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Child
  • Cryptochromes*
  • Electromagnetic Fields*
  • Humans
  • Light
  • Magnetic Fields
  • Reactive Oxygen Species

Substances

  • Cryptochromes
  • Reactive Oxygen Species

Grant support

This work was supported by the European Research Council [336725 to D.A.K.] and the Austrian Science Fund [Y726 to D.A.K.]. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.