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Sci Rep. 2016 Nov 21;6:37661. doi: 10.1038/srep37661.

The effects of non-self-sustained oscillators on the en-trainment ability of the suprachiasmatic nucleus.

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Business School, University of Shanghai for Science and Technology, Shanghai 200093, China.
School of Information Science and Technology, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200241, P.R. China.
Big data research center, University of Electronic Science and Technology of China, Chengdu 610054, China.
Department of Molecular Cell Biology, Laboratory for Neurophysiology, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, 2300 RC, The Netherlands.


In mammals, the circadian rhythms of behavioral and physiological activities are regulated by an endogenous clock located in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). The SCN is composed of ~20,000 neurons, of which some are capable of self-sustained oscillations, while the others do not oscillate in a self-sustainable manner, but show arrhythmic patterns or damped oscillations. Thus far, the effects of these non-self-sustained oscillatory neurons are not fully explored. Here, we examined how the proportion of the non-self-sustained oscillators affects the free running period under constant darkness and the ability to entrain to the light-dark cycle. We find that the proportion does not affect the free running period, but plays a significant role in the range of entrainment. We also find that its effect on the entrainment range depends on the region where the non-self-sustained oscillators are located. If the non-self-sustained oscillatory neurons are situated in the light-sensitive subregion, the entrainment range narrows when the proportion increases. If they are situated in the light-insensitive subregion, however, the entrainment range broadens with the increase of the proportion. We suggest that the heterogeneity within the light-sensitive and light-insensitive subregions of the SCN has important consequences for how the clock works.

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