Clock Synchronisation

Circadian oscillations are found in many tissues and even in cultured cells. All clocks show a certain degree of self-sustainment – e.g. under tissue culture conditions – but in vivo are tightly controlled by the master circadian pacemaker of the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN). In the absence of external time cues, the SCN clock – and with it the whole organism – "free-runs" with a precise species-specific period of close to (but not exactly) 24 hours. This endogenous rhythm is determined by so called clock genes with circadian expression profiles, regulated via a system of interlocked transcriptional/translational feedback loops. These molecular oscillations are translated into physiological and, ultimately, behavioural rhythms by the circadian timing system. We are interested in the mechanistic basis of this translation process. How can the clock network integrate different timing signals from the environment, and how are clock gene rhythms translated into physiological functions?

 

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