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J Neuroendocrinol. 2003 Apr;15(4):339-43.

The circadian clock: a manager of biochemical processes within the organism.

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Max-Planck-Institute for Experimental Endocrinology, Hannover, Germany.


The periodic succession of night and day has influenced life on earth for millions of years. Many organisms have "internalized" this periodic change in the form of the circadian clock. Its main function is to organize the time course of biochemical, physiological and behavioural processes thereby optimizing an organism's performance in anticipating changing environmental conditions. Therefore, it is important to understand the underlying mechanisms that connect the core pacemaker, which is located in the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) of the hypothalamus, with peripheral organs. Several laboratories set out to identify genes that are under the influence of the circadian clock. It appears that the circadian clock coordinates transcription of key metabolic pathways thereby orchestrating the time course of physiological and behavioural processes. We review these investigations and put our experiments, the comparison of gene expression in SCN tissue of Per2 mutant and wild-type mice, in the context of these findings.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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