Journal Article

Molecular components of the mammalian circadian clock

Caroline H. Ko and Joseph S. Takahashi

in Human Molecular Genetics

Volume 15, issue suppl_2, pages R271-R277
Published in print October 2006 | ISSN: 0964-6906
Published online October 2006 | e-ISSN: 1460-2083 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/hmg/ddl207
Molecular components of the mammalian circadian clock

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Circadian rhythms are ∼24-h oscillations in behavior and physiology, which are internally generated and function to anticipate the environmental changes associated with the solar day. A conserved transcriptional–translational autoregulatory loop generates molecular oscillations of ‘clock genes’ at the cellular level. In mammals, the circadian system is organized in a hierarchical manner, in which a master pacemaker in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) regulates downstream oscillators in peripheral tissues. Recent findings have revealed that the clock is cell-autonomous and self-sustained not only in a central pacemaker, the SCN, but also in peripheral tissues and in dissociated cultured cells. It is becoming evident that specific contribution of each clock component and interactions among the components vary in a tissue-specific manner. Here, we review the general mechanisms of the circadian clockwork, describe recent findings that elucidate tissue-specific expression patterns of the clock genes and address the importance of circadian regulation in peripheral tissues for an organism's overall well-being.

Journal Article.  4015 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Genetics and Genomics

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