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      Molecular mechanisms and physiological importance of circadian rhythms

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          Abstract

          To accommodate daily recurring environmental changes, animals show cyclic variations in behaviour and physiology, which include prominent behavioural states such as sleep-wake cycles but also a host of less conspicuous oscillations in neurological, metabolic, endocrine, cardiovascular and immune functions. Circadian rhythmicity is created endogenously by genetically encoded molecular clocks, whose components cooperate to generate cyclic changes in their own abundance and activity, with a periodicity of about a day. Throughout the body, such molecular clocks convey temporal control to the function of organs and tissues by regulating pertinent downstream programmes. Synchrony between the different circadian oscillators and resonance with the solar day is largely enabled by a neural pacemaker, which is directly responsive to certain environmental cues and able to transmit internal time-of-day representations to the entire body. In this Review, we discuss aspects of the circadian clock in Drosophila melanogaster and mammals, including the components of these molecular oscillators, the function and mechanisms of action of central and peripheral clocks, their synchronization and their relevance to human health.

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          The orphan nuclear receptor REV-ERBalpha controls circadian transcription within the positive limb of the mammalian circadian oscillator.

          Mammalian circadian rhythms are generated by a feedback loop in which BMAL1 and CLOCK, players of the positive limb, activate transcription of the cryptochrome and period genes, components of the negative limb. Bmal1 and Per transcription cycles display nearly opposite phases and are thus governed by different mechanisms. Here, we identify the orphan nuclear receptor REV-ERBalpha as the major regulator of cyclic Bmal1 transcription. Circadian Rev-erbalpha expression is controlled by components of the general feedback loop. Thus, REV-ERBalpha constitutes a molecular link through which components of the negative limb drive antiphasic expression of components of the positive limb. While REV-ERBalpha influences the period length and affects the phase-shifting properties of the clock, it is not required for circadian rhythm generation.
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            Transcriptional architecture and chromatin landscape of the core circadian clock in mammals.

            The mammalian circadian clock involves a transcriptional feed back loop in which CLOCK and BMAL1 activate the Period and Cryptochrome genes, which then feedback and repress their own transcription. We have interrogated the transcriptional architecture of the circadian transcriptional regulatory loop on a genome scale in mouse liver and find a stereotyped, time-dependent pattern of transcription factor binding, RNA polymerase II (RNAPII) recruitment, RNA expression, and chromatin states. We find that the circadian transcriptional cycle of the clock consists of three distinct phases: a poised state, a coordinated de novo transcriptional activation state, and a repressed state. Only 22% of messenger RNA (mRNA) cycling genes are driven by de novo transcription, suggesting that both transcriptional and posttranscriptional mechanisms underlie the mammalian circadian clock. We also find that circadian modulation of RNAPII recruitment and chromatin remodeling occurs on a genome-wide scale far greater than that seen previously by gene expression profiling.
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              Disruption of the Clock Components CLOCK and BMAL1 Leads to Hypoinsulinemia and Diabetes

              The molecular clock maintains energy constancy by producing circadian oscillations of rate-limiting enzymes involved in tissue metabolism across the day and night1–3. During periods of feeding, pancreatic islets secrete insulin to maintain glucose homeostasis, and while rhythmic control of insulin release is recognized to be dysregulated in humans with diabetes4, it is not known how the circadian clock may affect this process. Here we show that pancreatic islets possess self-sustained circadian gene and protein oscillations of the transcription factors CLOCK and BMAL1. The phase of oscillation of islet genes involved in growth, glucose metabolism, and insulin signaling is delayed in circadian mutant mice, and both Clock 5,6 and Bmal1 7 mutants exhibit impaired glucose tolerance, reduced insulin secretion, and defects in size and proliferation of pancreatic islets that worsen with age. Clock disruption leads to transcriptome-wide alterations in the expression of islet genes involved in growth, survival, and synaptic vesicle assembly. Remarkably, conditional ablation of the pancreatic clock causes diabetes mellitus due to defective β-cell function at the very latest stage of stimulus-secretion coupling. These results demonstrate a role for the β-cell clock in coordinating insulin secretion with the sleep-wake cycle, and reveal that ablation of the pancreatic clock can trigger onset of diabetes mellitus.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology
                Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol
                Springer Science and Business Media LLC
                1471-0072
                1471-0080
                November 25 2019
                Article
                10.1038/s41580-019-0179-2
                31768006
                ff602409-a8b7-47e8-ae5d-9f8cac1aa6fc
                © 2019

                http://www.springer.com/tdm

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