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Behav Genet. 1996 May;26(3):221-40.

Light, immediate-early genes, and circadian rhythms.

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NSF Center for Biological Timing, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 60208-3520, USA.


Many diverse behaviors exhibit clear circadian rhythms in their expression. In mammals, these rhythms originate from a neural circadian clock located in the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN). Recently, signaling pathways activated by light in the SCN have begun to be identified. A specific set of immediate-early genes is induced by light in the SCN, and their expression is correlated with the resetting of circadian behavioral rhythms. These light-regulated immediate-early genes offer multiple inroads into the biology of the SCN: first, they are functional markers for the activation of SCN neurons by light; second, they can direct us to the upstream light-activated (and clock-regulated) signal transduction pathways which mediate their induction; and finally, they encode transcription factor proteins which may play a role in the molecular mechanism of resetting the circadian clock.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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