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Trends Neurosci. 2011 Jul;34(7):349-58. doi: 10.1016/j.tins.2011.05.003. Epub 2011 Jun 12.

Cell autonomy and synchrony of suprachiasmatic nucleus circadian oscillators.

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Department of Neuroscience and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX 75390-9111, USA.


The suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) of the hypothalamus is the site of the master circadian pacemaker in mammals. The individual cells of the SCN are capable of functioning independently from one another and therefore must form a cohesive circadian network through intercellular coupling. The network properties of the SCN lead to coordination of circadian rhythms among its neurons and neuronal subpopulations. There is increasing evidence for multiple interconnected oscillators within the SCN, and in this review we will highlight recent advances in our knowledge of the complex organization and function of the cellular and network-level SCN clock. Understanding the way in which synchrony is achieved between cells in the SCN will provide insight into the means by which this important nucleus orchestrates circadian rhythms throughout the organism.

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