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Cell Cycle. 2008 Sep 1;7(17):2630-4. Epub 2008 Sep 26.

A connection between MAPK pathways and circadian clocks.

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Center for Biological Clocks Research, Program for the Biology of Filamentous Fungi, and Department of Biology, Texas A&M University, Texas 77843, USA.


Circadian clocks and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling pathways are fundamental features of eukaryotic cells. Both pathways provide mechanisms for cells to respond to environmental stimuli, and links between them are known. We recently reported that the circadian clock in Neurospora crassa regulates daily rhythms in accumulation of phosphorylated, and thus active, OS-2 MAPK, a relative of mammalian p38 MAPK, when cells are grown in constant conditions. In the absence of acute stress, rhythmically activated MAPK then signals to downstream effector molecules to regulate rhythmic expression of target genes of the pathway. Clock regulation of MAPK signaling pathways provides a mechanism to coordinately control major groups of genes such that they peak at the appropriate times of day to provide a growth and survival advantage to the organism by anticipating stresses. MAPK pathways are well known for their role in cell proliferation and tumor suppression. New evidence reveals that some mammalian clock components also function as tumor suppressors and rhythms in phospho-MAPK have been observed in higher eukaryotes. Thus, the role of the clock in regulation of the activity of MAPK pathways provides important clues into the function of the circadian clock as a tumor suppressor.

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