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J Neurochem. 2009 Aug;110(4):1150-69. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-4159.2009.06223.x. Epub 2009 Jun 15.

Circadian regulation of ion channels and their functions.

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Department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas 77843-4458, USA.


Ion channels are the gatekeepers to neuronal excitability. Retinal neurons of vertebrates and invertebrates, neurons of the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) of vertebrates, and pinealocytes of non-mammalian vertebrates display daily rhythms in their activities. The interlocking transcription-translation feedback loops with specific post-translational modulations within individual cells form the molecular clock, the basic mechanism that maintains the autonomic approximately 24-h rhythm. The molecular clock regulates downstream output signaling pathways that further modulate activities of various ion channels. Ultimately, it is the circadian regulation of ion channel properties that govern excitability and behavior output of these neurons. In this review, we focus on the recent development of research in circadian neurobiology mainly from 1980 forward. We will emphasize the circadian regulation of various ion channels, including cGMP-gated cation channels, various voltage-gated calcium and potassium channels, Na(+)/K(+)-ATPase, and a long-opening cation channel. The cellular mechanisms underlying the circadian regulation of these ion channels and their functions in various tissues and organisms will also be discussed. Despite the magnitude of chronobiological studies in recent years, the circadian regulation of ion channels still remains largely unexplored. Through more investigation and understanding of the circadian regulation of ion channels, the future development of therapeutic strategies for the treatment of sleep disorders, cardiovascular diseases, and other illnesses linked to circadian misalignment will benefit.

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