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Zoolog Sci. 2004 Apr;21(4):359-68.

Resetting mechanism of central and peripheral circadian clocks in mammals.

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Department of Biophysics and Biochemistry, Graduate School of Science, The University of Tokyo, Hongo 7-3-1, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-0033, Japan.


Almost all organisms on earth exhibit diurnal rhythms in physiology and behavior under the control of autonomous time-measuring system called circadian clock. The circadian clock is generally reset by environmental time cues, such as light, in order to synchronize with the external 24-h cycles. In mammals, the core oscillator of the circadian clock is composed of transcription/translation-based negative feedback loops regulating the cyclic expression of a limited number of clock genes (such as Per, Cry, Bmal1, etc.) and hundreds of output genes in a well-concerted manner. The central clock controlling the behavioral rhythm is localized in the hypothalamic suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), and peripheral clocks are present in other various tissues. The phase of the central clock is amenable to ambient light signal captured by the visual rod-cone photoreceptors and non-visual melanopsin in the retina. These light signals are transmitted to the SCN through the retinohypothalamic tract, and transduced therein by mitogen-activated protein kinase and other signaling molecules to induce Per gene expression, which eventually elicits phase-dependent phase shifts of the clock. The central clock controls peripheral clocks directly and indirectly by virtue of neural, humoral, and other signals in a coordinated manner. The change in feeding time resets the peripheral clocks in a SCN-independent manner, possibly by food metabolites and body temperature rhythms. In this article, we will provide an overview of recent molecular and genetic studies on the resetting mechanism of the central and peripheral circadian clocks in mammals.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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