Connections Map Overview

Circadian Rhythms in the Mouse: A Connections Map

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Science's STKE  05 Aug 2003:
Vol. 2003, Issue 194, pp. cm9
DOI: 10.1126/stke.2003.194.cm9


Genetic and biochemical experiments over the past decade have facilitated the construction of a viable working model for the molecular mechanisms that generate the circadian rhythm in Mus musculus. The basic mechanism consists of two intertwined transcription-translation negative feedback loops. One, the "positive loop," controls the rhythmic expression of a Per-Arnt-Sim (PAS)-domain-containing positive transcription factor, BMAL1 (also called MOP3). The other, the "negative loop," controls the transcription of mPeriod 1 and 2 and mCryptochrome 1 and 2, two families of genes that encode repressor proteins. The loops are intertwined because the proteins mPeriod and mCryptochrome directly repress transcription mediated by the CLOCK:BMAL1 heterodimer, whereas CLOCK:BMAL1 drives transcription of the mPeriod and mCryptochrome genes, as well as that of Rev-erb-alpha, a repressor of Bmal1 expression. Mutations, including the tau mutation in hamsters [encoding Casein kinase I ϵ (CkIϵ)], have identified essential functions for other proteins in the timekeeping mechanism. The master pacemaker for circadian rhythms in mice is located in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) of the hypothalamus. Light cycles can synchronize molecular rhythms in the SCN by stimulating the release of glutamate and the neuropeptide pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide (PACAP) from melanopsin-containing retinal ganglion cells. This results in increased transcription of mPeriod genes and a shift in the phase of the clock. This Pathway Map of the murine circadian mechanism describes the individual known components of the mouse circadian clock and their mutual interactions.

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R. N. Van Gelder, E. D. Herzog, W. J. Schwartz, P. H. Taghert, Circadian rhythms: In the loop at last. Science 300, 1534-1535 (2003). [Abstract] [Full Text]

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