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Science 326 (5950): 281-284

Copyright © 2009 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Daily Electrical Silencing in the Mammalian Circadian Clock

Mino D. C. Belle,1 Casey O. Diekman,2,4 Daniel B. Forger,3,4 Hugh D. Piggins1,*

Abstract: Neurons in the brain’s suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCNs), which control the timing of daily rhythms, are thought to encode time of day by changing their firing frequency, with high rates during the day and lower rates at night. Some SCN neurons express a key clock gene, period 1 (per1). We found that during the day, neurons containing per1 sustain an electrically excited state and do not fire, whereas non-per1 neurons show the previously reported daily variation in firing activity. Using a combined experimental and theoretical approach, we explain how ionic currents lead to the unusual electrophysiological behaviors of per1 cells, which unlike other mammalian brain cells can survive and function at depolarized states.

1 Faculty of Life Sciences, A. V. Hill Building, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PT, UK.
2 Department of Industrial and Operations Engineering, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA.
3 Department of Mathematics, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA.
4 Center for Computational Medicine and Bioinformatics, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA.

* To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: hugh.d.piggins{at}

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J. Neurosci. 34, 3607-3621
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Daily variation in the electrophysiological activity of mouse medial habenula neurones.
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L. D. Plant (2013)
J. Gen. Physiol. 142, 579-583
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R. D. Gleit, C. G. Diniz Behn, and V. Booth (2013)
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J. R. Montgomery, J. P. Whitt, B. N. Wright, M. H. Lai, and A. L. Meredith (2013)
Am J Physiol Cell Physiol 304, C299-C311
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P. Fotiadis and D. B. Forger (2013)
J Biol Rhythms 28, 69-78
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A Mechanism for Circadian Control of Pacemaker Neuron Excitability.
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J Biol Rhythms 27, 353-364
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Circadian Time Redoxed.
M. D. C. Belle and H. D. Piggins (2012)
Science 337, 805-806
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
Circadian Rhythm of Redox State Regulates Excitability in Suprachiasmatic Nucleus Neurons.
T. A. Wang, Y. V. Yu, G. Govindaiah, X. Ye, L. Artinian, T. P. Coleman, J. V. Sweedler, C. L. Cox, and M. U. Gillette (2012)
Science 337, 839-842
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Period Coding of Bmal1 Oscillators in the Suprachiasmatic Nucleus.
J. Myung, S. Hong, F. Hatanaka, Y. Nakajima, E. De Schutter, and T. Takumi (2012)
J. Neurosci. 32, 8900-8918
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Evidence for Neuronal Desynchrony in the Aged Suprachiasmatic Nucleus Clock.
S. Farajnia, S. Michel, T. Deboer, H. T. vanderLeest, T. Houben, J. H. T. Rohling, A. Ramkisoensing, R. Yasenkov, and J. H. Meijer (2012)
J. Neurosci. 32, 5891-5899
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Circadian regulation of sleep-wake behaviour in nocturnal rats requires multiple signals from suprachiasmatic nucleus.
M. Fleshner, V. Booth, D. B. Forger, and C. G. Diniz Behn (2011)
Phil Trans R Soc A 369, 3855-3883
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Cyclic AMP Signaling Control of Action Potential Firing Rate and Molecular Circadian Pacemaking in the Suprachiasmatic Nucleus.
S. E. Atkinson, E. S. Maywood, J. E. Chesham, C. Wozny, C. S. Colwell, M. H. Hastings, and S. R. Williams (2011)
J Biol Rhythms 26, 210-220
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Multiple hypothalamic cell populations encoding distinct visual information.
T. M. Brown, J. Wynne, H. D. Piggins, and R. J. Lucas (2011)
J. Physiol. 589, 1173-1194
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Highlights From The Literature.
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Circadian Regulation of A-Type Potassium Currents in the Suprachiasmatic Nucleus.
J. N. Itri, A. M. Vosko, A. Schroeder, J. M. Dragich, S. Michel, and C. S. Colwell (2010)
J Neurophysiol 103, 632-640
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »

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