The mammalian circadian timing system: synchronization of peripheral clocks

Mammalian physiology has to adapt to daily alternating periods during which animals either forage and feed or sleep and fast. The adaptation of physiology to these oscillations is controlled by a circadian timekeeping system, in which a master pacemaker in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) synchronizes slave clocks in peripheral organs. Because the temporal coordination of metabolism is a major purpose of clocks in many tissues, it is important that metabolic and circadian cycles are tightly coordinated. Recent studies have revealed a multitude of signaling components that possibly link metabolism to circadian gene expression. Owing to this redundancy, the implication of any single signaling pathway in the synchronization of peripheral oscillators cannot be assessed by determining the steady-state phase, but instead requires the monitoring of phase-shifting kinetics at a high temporal resolution.


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