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Curr Biol. 2003 Dec 2;13(23):2051-7.

Light regulates the cell cycle in zebrafish.

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Max-Planck Institut für Entwicklungsbiologie, Spemannstrasse 35-39, 72076 Tübingen, Germany.


The timing of cell proliferation is a key factor contributing to the regulation of normal growth. Daily rhythms of cell cycle progression have been documented in a wide range of organisms. However, little is known about how environmental, humoral, and cell-autonomous factors contribute to these rhythms. Here, we demonstrate that light plays a key role in cell cycle regulation in the zebrafish. Exposure of larvae to light-dark (LD) cycles causes a range of different cell types to enter S phase predominantly at the end of the day. When larvae are raised in constant darkness (DD), a low level of arrhythmic S phase is observed. In addition, light-entrained cell cycle rhythms persist for several days after transfer to DD, both observations pointing to the involvement of the circadian clock. We show that the number of LD cycles experienced is essential for establishing this rhythm during larval development. Furthermore, we reveal that the same phenomenon exists in a zebrafish cell line. This represents the first example of a vertebrate cell culture system where circadian rhythms of the cell cycle are observed. Thus, we implicate the cell-autonomous circadian clock in the regulation of the vertebrate cell cycle by light.

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