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Adv Genet. 2013;84:1-39. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-407703-4.00001-3.

Diverse roles for MAPK signaling in circadian clocks.

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Department of Biology, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, USA.


The mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) family of genes aids cells in sensing both extracellular and intracellular stimuli, and emerging data indicate that MAPKs have fundamental, yet diverse, roles in the circadian biological clock. In the mammalian suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), MAPK pathways can function as inputs allowing the endogenous clock to entrain to 24h environmental cycles. MAPKs can also interact physically and/or genetically with components of the molecular circadian oscillator, implying that MAPKs can affect the cycling of the clock. Finally, circadian rhythms in MAPK pathway activation exist in many different tissue types and in model organisms, providing a mechanism to coordinately control the expression tissue-specific target genes at the proper time of day. As such, it should probably not come as a surprise that MAPK signaling pathways and circadian clocks affect similar biological processes and defects in either pathway lead to many of the same types of human diseases, highlighting the need to better define the mechanisms that link these two fundamental pathways together.


Circadian rhythm; ERK; Fibroblasts; JNK; OS-2; SCN; Stress response; Suprachiasmatic nucleus; mTOR; p38

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