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Special Issue "Circadian Rhythms: Molecular and Physiological Mechanisms"

A special issue of International Journal of Molecular Sciences (ISSN 1422-0067). This special issue belongs to the section "Molecular Biology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 April 2019).

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Etienne Challet
Website
Guest Editor
Neurobiology of Rhythms UPR 3212 CNRS, Institute for Cellular and Integrative Neurosciences, University of Strasbourg, Strasbourg, France
Interests: circadian rhythms; clock genes; nutrition; energy metabolism

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Circadian rhythms are daily, molecular, physiological and behavioral variations with a period close to 24 h. These variations are controlled by endogenous clocks found in most living organisms. Circadian clocks generate an internal temporal organization to segregate incompatible functions on a daily basis and allow organisms to anticipate and/or be in phase with predictable environmental changes. Molecular mechanisms underlying circadian oscillations are self-sustained, entrainable and temperature-compensated. Furthermore, circadian clocks are tightly interconnected with cellular metabolism. As a consequence, circadian disturbances are frequently associated with metabolic disturbances.

This Special Issue, “Circadian rhythms: Molecular and Physiological Mechanisms”, of the International Journal of Molecular Sciences will comprise a selection of research papers and reviews covering various aspects of molecular and cellular biology of circadian clocks in different biological models. Contributions on the interactions between cellular metabolism and circadian clocks, as well as their pathophysiological implications for health, will be welcome. Studies on bioactive molecules and nutraceutical treatments modulating circadian rhythms will also be considered.

Dr. Etienne Challet
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Molecular Sciences is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. There is an Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal. For details about the APC please see here. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Circadian clock
  • Clock gene
  • Intra-cellular regulation
  • Small molecule modifiers
  • Clock-associated pathologies
  • Chronotherapy

Published Papers (20 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Maternal Obesity during Pregnancy Alters Daily Activity and Feeding Cycles, and Hypothalamic Clock Gene Expression in Adult Male Mouse Offspring
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20(21), 5408; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20215408 - 30 Oct 2019
Abstract
An obesogenic diet adversely affects the endogenous mammalian circadian clock, altering daily activity and metabolism, and resulting in obesity. We investigated whether an obese pregnancy can alter the molecular clock in the offspring hypothalamus, resulting in changes to their activity and feeding rhythms. [...] Read more.
An obesogenic diet adversely affects the endogenous mammalian circadian clock, altering daily activity and metabolism, and resulting in obesity. We investigated whether an obese pregnancy can alter the molecular clock in the offspring hypothalamus, resulting in changes to their activity and feeding rhythms. Female mice were fed a control (C, 7% kcal fat) or high fat diet (HF, 45% kcal fat) before mating and throughout pregnancy. Male offspring were fed the C or HF diet postweaning, resulting in four offspring groups: C/C, C/HF, HF/C, and HF/HF. Daily activity and food intake were monitored, and at 15 weeks of age were killed at six time-points over 24 h. The clock genes Clock, Bmal1, Per2, and Cry2 in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) and appetite genes Npy and Pomc in the arcuate nucleus (ARC) were measured. Daily activity and feeding cycles in the HF/C, C/HF, and HF/HF offspring were altered, with increased feeding bouts and activity during the day and increased food intake but reduced activity at night. Gene expression patterns and levels of Clock, Bmal1, Per2, and Cry2 in the SCN and Npy and Pomc in the ARC were altered in HF diet-exposed offspring. The altered expression of hypothalamic molecular clock components and appetite genes, together with changes in activity and feeding rhythms, could be contributing to offspring obesity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circadian Rhythms: Molecular and Physiological Mechanisms)
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Open AccessArticle
A Multi-Layered Study on Harmonic Oscillations in Mammalian Genomics and Proteomics
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20(18), 4585; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20184585 - 17 Sep 2019
Abstract
Cellular, organ, and whole animal physiology show temporal variation predominantly featuring 24-h (circadian) periodicity. Time-course mRNA gene expression profiling in mouse liver showed two subsets of genes oscillating at the second (12-h) and third (8-h) harmonic of the prime (24-h) frequency. The aim [...] Read more.
Cellular, organ, and whole animal physiology show temporal variation predominantly featuring 24-h (circadian) periodicity. Time-course mRNA gene expression profiling in mouse liver showed two subsets of genes oscillating at the second (12-h) and third (8-h) harmonic of the prime (24-h) frequency. The aim of our study was to identify specific genomic, proteomic, and functional properties of ultradian and circadian subsets. We found hallmarks of the three oscillating gene subsets, including different (i) functional annotation, (ii) proteomic and electrochemical features, and (iii) transcription factor binding motifs in upstream regions of 8-h and 12-h oscillating genes that seemingly allow the link of the ultradian gene sets to a known circadian network. Our multifaceted bioinformatics analysis of circadian and ultradian genes suggests that the different rhythmicity of gene expression impacts physiological outcomes and may be related to transcriptional, translational and post-translational dynamics, as well as to phylogenetic and evolutionary components. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circadian Rhythms: Molecular and Physiological Mechanisms)
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Open AccessArticle
Coordinate Regulation of Cholesterol and Bile Acid Metabolism by the Clock Modifier Nobiletin in Metabolically Challenged Old Mice
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20(17), 4281; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20174281 - 01 Sep 2019
Cited by 5
Abstract
Cholesterol and bile acid (BA) homeostasis plays a central role in systemic metabolism. Accumulating evidence suggests a key regulatory function of the circadian clock, our biological timer, in lipid metabolism, particularly cholesterol and bile acid flux. Previously, we showed that Nobiletin (NOB), a [...] Read more.
Cholesterol and bile acid (BA) homeostasis plays a central role in systemic metabolism. Accumulating evidence suggests a key regulatory function of the circadian clock, our biological timer, in lipid metabolism, particularly cholesterol and bile acid flux. Previously, we showed that Nobiletin (NOB), a natural compound targeting the ROR (Retinoic acid receptor-related orphan receptor) nuclear receptors in the circadian oscillator, strongly protects lipid homeostasis, including normal serum cholesterol levels in high-fat (HF) fed mice at both young and old ages. In this study, we further examined the role of NOB in cholesterol metabolism in HF-fed aged mice, and found that NOB lowered the serum LDL/VLDL cholesterol levels and consequently the LDL/HDL ratio. BA levels in the serum were markedly reduced in the HF.NOB group, and examination of additional hepatic markers further indicate a protective role of NOB in the liver. At the molecular level, whereas HF feeding downregulated hepatic expression of several ROR target genes involved in bile acid synthesis, NOB treatment (HF.NOB) was able to rescue it. In accordance, fecal BA excretion was enhanced by NOB, and microbial 16S sequencing revealed alteration of several taxa known to be involved in secondary BA production in the gut. Together, these results demonstrate concerted effects of the clock-modulating compound NOB in cholesterol and BA metabolism, suggesting pharmacological manipulation of the clock as a novel therapeutic strategy against metabolic disorders and age-related decline. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circadian Rhythms: Molecular and Physiological Mechanisms)
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Open AccessArticle
An Inactivation Switch Enables Rhythms in a Neurospora Clock Model
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20(12), 2985; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20122985 - 19 Jun 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Autonomous endogenous time-keeping is ubiquitous across many living organisms, known as the circadian clock when it has a period of about 24 h. Interestingly, the fundamental design principle with a network of interconnected negative and positive feedback loops is conserved through evolution, although [...] Read more.
Autonomous endogenous time-keeping is ubiquitous across many living organisms, known as the circadian clock when it has a period of about 24 h. Interestingly, the fundamental design principle with a network of interconnected negative and positive feedback loops is conserved through evolution, although the molecular components differ. Filamentous fungus Neurospora crassa is a well-established chrono-genetics model organism to investigate the underlying mechanisms. The core negative feedback loop of the clock of Neurospora is composed of the transcription activator White Collar Complex (WCC) (heterodimer of WC1 and WC2) and the inhibitory element called FFC complex, which is made of FRQ (Frequency protein), FRH (Frequency interacting RNA Helicase) and CK1a (Casein kinase 1a). While exploring their temporal dynamics, we investigate how limit cycle oscillations arise and how molecular switches support self-sustained rhythms. We develop a mathematical model of 10 variables with 26 parameters to understand the interactions and feedback among WC1 and FFC elements in nuclear and cytoplasmic compartments. We performed control and bifurcation analysis to show that our novel model produces robust oscillations with a wild-type period of 22.5 h. Our model reveals a switch between WC1-induced transcription and FFC-assisted inactivation of WC1. Using the new model, we also study the possible mechanisms of glucose compensation. A fairly simple model with just three nonlinearities helps to elucidate clock dynamics, revealing a mechanism of rhythms’ production. The model can further be utilized to study entrainment and temperature compensation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circadian Rhythms: Molecular and Physiological Mechanisms)
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Open AccessArticle
Development and Optimization of Expression, Purification, and ATPase Assay of KaiC for Medium-Throughput Screening of Circadian Clock Mutants in Cyanobacteria
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20(11), 2789; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20112789 - 07 Jun 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
The slow but temperature-insensitive adenosine triphosphate (ATP) hydrolysis reaction in KaiC is considered as one of the factors determining the temperature-compensated period length of the cyanobacterial circadian clock system. Structural units responsible for this low but temperature-compensated ATPase have remained unclear. Although whole-KaiC [...] Read more.
The slow but temperature-insensitive adenosine triphosphate (ATP) hydrolysis reaction in KaiC is considered as one of the factors determining the temperature-compensated period length of the cyanobacterial circadian clock system. Structural units responsible for this low but temperature-compensated ATPase have remained unclear. Although whole-KaiC scanning mutagenesis can be a promising experimental strategy, producing KaiC mutants and assaying those ATPase activities consume considerable time and effort. To overcome these bottlenecks for in vitro screening, we optimized protocols for expressing and purifying the KaiC mutants and then designed a high-performance liquid chromatography system equipped with a multi-channel high-precision temperature controller to assay the ATPase activity of multiple KaiC mutants simultaneously at different temperatures. Through the present protocol, the time required for one KaiC mutant is reduced by approximately 80% (six-fold throughput) relative to the conventional protocol with reasonable reproducibility. For validation purposes, we picked up three representatives from 86 alanine-scanning KaiC mutants preliminarily investigated thus far and characterized those clock functions in detail. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circadian Rhythms: Molecular and Physiological Mechanisms)
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Open AccessArticle
Parkin Mutation Affects Clock Gene-Dependent Energy Metabolism
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20(11), 2772; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20112772 - 05 Jun 2019
Cited by 4
Abstract
Growing evidence highlights a tight connection between circadian rhythms, molecular clockworks, and mitochondrial function. In particular, mitochondrial quality control and bioenergetics have been proven to undergo circadian oscillations driven by core clock genes. Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a chronic neurodegenerative disease characterized by [...] Read more.
Growing evidence highlights a tight connection between circadian rhythms, molecular clockworks, and mitochondrial function. In particular, mitochondrial quality control and bioenergetics have been proven to undergo circadian oscillations driven by core clock genes. Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a chronic neurodegenerative disease characterized by a selective loss of dopaminergic neurons. Almost half of the autosomal recessive forms of juvenile parkinsonism have been associated with mutations in the PARK2 gene coding for parkin, shown to be involved in mitophagy-mediated mitochondrial quality control. The aim of this study was to investigate, in fibroblasts from genetic PD patients carrying parkin mutations, the interplay between mitochondrial bioenergetics and the cell autonomous circadian clock. Using two different in vitro synchronization protocols, we demonstrated that normal fibroblasts displayed rhythmic oscillations of both mitochondrial respiration and glycolytic activity. Conversely, in fibroblasts obtained from PD patients, a severe damping of the bioenergetic oscillatory patterns was observed. Analysis of the core clock genes showed deregulation of their expression patterns in PD fibroblasts, which was confirmed in induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) and induced neural stem cells (iNSCs) derived thereof. The results from this study support a reciprocal interplay between the clockwork machinery and mitochondrial energy metabolism, point to a parkin-dependent mechanism of regulation, and unveil a hitherto unappreciated level of complexity in the pathophysiology of PD and eventually other neurodegenerative diseases. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circadian Rhythms: Molecular and Physiological Mechanisms)
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Open AccessArticle
The Kidney Clock Contributes to Timekeeping by the Master Circadian Clock
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20(11), 2765; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20112765 - 05 Jun 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
The kidney harbors one of the strongest circadian clocks in the body. Kidney failure has long been known to cause circadian sleep disturbances. Using an adenine-induced model of chronic kidney disease (CKD) in mice, we probe the possibility that such sleep disturbances originate [...] Read more.
The kidney harbors one of the strongest circadian clocks in the body. Kidney failure has long been known to cause circadian sleep disturbances. Using an adenine-induced model of chronic kidney disease (CKD) in mice, we probe the possibility that such sleep disturbances originate from aberrant circadian rhythms in kidney. Under the CKD condition, mice developed unstable behavioral circadian rhythms. When observed in isolation in vitro, the pacing of the master clock, the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), remained uncompromised, while the kidney clock became a less robust circadian oscillator with a longer period. We find this analogous to the silencing of a strong slave clock in the brain, the choroid plexus, which alters the pacing of the SCN. We propose that the kidney also contributes to overall circadian timekeeping at the whole-body level, through bottom-up feedback in the hierarchical structure of the mammalian circadian clocks. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circadian Rhythms: Molecular and Physiological Mechanisms)
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Open AccessArticle
Melatonin MT1 and MT2 Receptors Exhibit Distinct Effects in the Modulation of Body Temperature across the Light/Dark Cycle
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20(10), 2452; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20102452 - 17 May 2019
Cited by 5
Abstract
Melatonin (MLT) is a neurohormone that regulates many physiological functions including sleep, pain, thermoregulation, and circadian rhythms. MLT acts mainly through two G-protein-coupled receptors named MT1 and MT2, but also through an MLT type-3 receptor (MT3). However, the [...] Read more.
Melatonin (MLT) is a neurohormone that regulates many physiological functions including sleep, pain, thermoregulation, and circadian rhythms. MLT acts mainly through two G-protein-coupled receptors named MT1 and MT2, but also through an MLT type-3 receptor (MT3). However, the role of MLT receptor subtypes in thermoregulation is still unknown. We have thus investigated the effects of selective and non-selective MLT receptor agonists/antagonists on body temperature (Tb) in rats across the 12/12-h light–dark cycle. Rectal temperature was measured every 15 min from 4:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and from 4:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., following subcutaneous injection of each compound at either 5:00 a.m. or 5:00 p.m. MLT (40 mg/kg) had no effect when injected at 5 a.m., whereas it decreased Tb during the light phase only when injected at 5:00 p.m. This effect was blocked by the selective MT2 receptor antagonist 4P-PDOT and the non-selective MT1/MT2 receptor antagonist, luzindole, but not by the α1/MT3 receptors antagonist prazosin. However, unlike MLT, neither the selective MT1 receptor partial agonist UCM871 (14 mg/kg) nor the selective MT2 partial agonist UCM924 (40 mg/kg) altered Tb during the light phase. In contrast, UCM871 injected at 5:00 p.m. increased Tb at the beginning of the dark phase, whereas UCM924 injected at 5:00 a.m. decreased Tb at the end of the dark phase. These effects were blocked by luzindole and 4P-PDOT, respectively. The MT3 receptor agonist GR135531 (10 mg/kg) did not affect Tb. These data suggest that the simultaneous activation of both MT1 and MT2 receptors is necessary to regulate Tb during the light phase, whereas in a complex but yet unknown manner, they regulate Tb differently during the dark phase. Overall, MT1 and MT2 receptors display complementary but also distinct roles in modulating circadian fluctuations of Tb. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circadian Rhythms: Molecular and Physiological Mechanisms)
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Open AccessArticle
A Robust Model for Circadian Redox Oscillations
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20(9), 2368; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20092368 - 13 May 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
The circadian clock is an endogenous oscillator that controls daily rhythms in metabolism, physiology, and behavior. Although the timekeeping components differ among species, a common design principle is a transcription-translation negative feedback loop. However, it is becoming clear that other mechanisms can contribute [...] Read more.
The circadian clock is an endogenous oscillator that controls daily rhythms in metabolism, physiology, and behavior. Although the timekeeping components differ among species, a common design principle is a transcription-translation negative feedback loop. However, it is becoming clear that other mechanisms can contribute to the generation of 24 h rhythms. Peroxiredoxins (Prxs) exhibit 24 h rhythms in their redox state in all kingdoms of life. In mammalian adrenal gland, heart and brown adipose tissue, such rhythms are generated as a result of an inactivating hyperoxidation reaction that is reduced by coordinated import of sulfiredoxin (Srx) into the mitochondria. However, a quantitative description of the Prx/Srx oscillating system is still missing. We investigate the basic principles that generate mitochondrial Prx/Srx rhythms using computational modeling. We observe that the previously described delay in mitochondrial Srx import, in combination with an appropriate separation of fast and slow reactions, is sufficient to generate robust self-sustained relaxation-like oscillations. We find that our conceptual model can be regarded as a series of three consecutive phases and two temporal switches, highlighting the importance of delayed negative feedback and switches in the generation of oscillations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circadian Rhythms: Molecular and Physiological Mechanisms)
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Open AccessArticle
Circadian Analysis of the Mouse Cerebellum Proteome
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20(8), 1852; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20081852 - 15 Apr 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
The cerebellum contains a circadian clock, generating internal temporal signals. The daily oscillations of cerebellar proteins were investigated in mice using a large-scale two-dimensional difference in gel electrophoresis (2D-DIGE). Analysis of 2D-DIGE gels highlighted the rhythmic variation in the intensity of 27/588 protein [...] Read more.
The cerebellum contains a circadian clock, generating internal temporal signals. The daily oscillations of cerebellar proteins were investigated in mice using a large-scale two-dimensional difference in gel electrophoresis (2D-DIGE). Analysis of 2D-DIGE gels highlighted the rhythmic variation in the intensity of 27/588 protein spots (5%) over 24 h based on cosinor regression. Notably, the rhythmic expression of most abundant cerebellar proteins was clustered in two main phases (i.e., midday and midnight), leading to bimodal distribution. Only six proteins identified here to be rhythmic in the cerebellum are also known to oscillate in the suprachiasmatic nuclei, including two proteins involved in the synapse activity (Synapsin 2 [SYN2] and vesicle-fusing ATPase [NSF]), two others participating in carbohydrate metabolism (triosephosphate isomerase (TPI1] and alpha-enolase [ENO1]), Glutamine synthetase (GLUL), as well as Tubulin alpha (TUBA4A). Most oscillating cerebellar proteins were not previously identified in circadian proteomic analyses of any tissue. Strikingly, the daily accumulation of mitochondrial proteins was clustered to the mid-resting phase, as previously observed for distinct mitochondrial proteins in the liver. Moreover, a number of rhythmic proteins, such as SYN2, NSF and TPI1, were associated with non-rhythmic mRNAs, indicating widespread post-transcriptional control in cerebellar oscillations. Thus, this study highlights extensive rhythmic aspects of the cerebellar proteome. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circadian Rhythms: Molecular and Physiological Mechanisms)
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Open AccessArticle
Circadian Expression of TIMP3 Is Disrupted by UVB Irradiation and Recovered by Green Tea Extracts
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20(4), 862; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20040862 - 16 Feb 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
The human skin is the outermost physical barrier and has its own circadian machinery that works either cooperatively with the central clock, or autonomously. Circadian rhythms have been observed in many functions related to epidermal homeostasis including hydration and inflammation, and this functional [...] Read more.
The human skin is the outermost physical barrier and has its own circadian machinery that works either cooperatively with the central clock, or autonomously. Circadian rhythms have been observed in many functions related to epidermal homeostasis including hydration and inflammation, and this functional oscillation is disturbed by ultraviolet radiation (UVR), which is a strong environmental cue. Among the genes estimated to show circadian expression in the skin, metalloproteinase inhibitor 3 (TIMP3), has a rhythmic expression in synchronized human keratinocytes similar to that of the core clock gene PER1 and an epidermal circadian regulatory gene, aquaporin 3 (AQP3) but was antiphase to the core clock gene BMAL1. Tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), the regulatory target of TIMP3 via a disintegrin and metalloproteinase domain 17 (ADAM17), was inversely regulated when TIMP3 expression was downregulated by ultraviolet B (UVB) treatment. When synthetic TIMP3 peptides were applied to the cells, the secretion of TNF-α did not increase following the UVB treatment. Similar to TIMP3 peptides, Camellia sinensis leaf-derived extracts showed a distinguishing efficacy in recovering TIMP3 expression, downregulated by UVB treatment. Together, our results suggest that TIMP3 reversely mediates UVR-induced inflammation by being highly expressed during the daytime; therefore, recovering the circadian expression of TIMP3 using synthetic TIMP3 peptides or bioactive natural ingredients could at least in part inhibit the UVR-induced cellular phenomena. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circadian Rhythms: Molecular and Physiological Mechanisms)
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Open AccessArticle
An Ultradian Feeding Schedule in Rats Affects Metabolic Gene Expression in Liver, Brown Adipose Tissue and Skeletal Muscle with Only Mild Effects on Circadian Clocks
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2018, 19(10), 3171; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms19103171 - 15 Oct 2018
Cited by 4
Abstract
Restricted feeding is well known to affect expression profiles of both clock and metabolic genes. However, it is unknown whether these changes in metabolic gene expression result from changes in the molecular clock or in feeding behavior. Here we eliminated the daily rhythm [...] Read more.
Restricted feeding is well known to affect expression profiles of both clock and metabolic genes. However, it is unknown whether these changes in metabolic gene expression result from changes in the molecular clock or in feeding behavior. Here we eliminated the daily rhythm in feeding behavior by providing 6 meals evenly distributed over the light/dark-cycle. Animals on this 6-meals-a-day feeding schedule retained the normal day/night difference in physiological parameters including body temperature and locomotor activity. The daily rhythm in respiratory exchange ratio (RER), however, was significantly phase-shifted through increased utilization of carbohydrates during the light phase and increased lipid oxidation during the dark phase. This 6-meals-a-day feeding schedule did not have a major impact on the clock gene expression rhythms in the master clock, but did have mild effects on peripheral clocks. In contrast, genes involved in glucose and lipid metabolism showed differential expression. In conclusion, eliminating the daily rhythm in feeding behavior in rats does not affect the master clock and only mildly affects peripheral clocks, but disturbs metabolic rhythms in liver, skeletal muscle and brown adipose tissue in a tissue-dependent manner. Thereby, a clear daily rhythm in feeding behavior strongly regulates timing of peripheral metabolism, separately from circadian clocks. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circadian Rhythms: Molecular and Physiological Mechanisms)
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Open AccessArticle
Deletion of Bmal1 Prevents Diet-Induced Ectopic Fat Accumulation by Controlling Oxidative Capacity in the Skeletal Muscle
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2018, 19(9), 2813; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms19092813 - 18 Sep 2018
Cited by 5
Abstract
Brain and muscle arnt-like protein 1 (BMAL1), is a transcription factor known to regulate circadian rhythm. BMAL1 was originally characterized by its high expression in the skeletal muscle. Since the skeletal muscle is the dominant organ system in energy metabolism, the possible functions [...] Read more.
Brain and muscle arnt-like protein 1 (BMAL1), is a transcription factor known to regulate circadian rhythm. BMAL1 was originally characterized by its high expression in the skeletal muscle. Since the skeletal muscle is the dominant organ system in energy metabolism, the possible functions of BMAL1 in the skeletal muscle include the control of metabolism. Here, we established that its involvement in the regulation of oxidative capacity in the skeletal muscle. Muscle-specific Bmal1 KO mice (MKO mice) displayed several physiological hallmarks for the increase of oxidative capacity. This included increased energy expenditure and oxygen consumption, high running endurance and resistance to obesity with improved metabolic profiles. Also, the phosphorylation status of AMP-activated protein kinase and its downstream signaling substrate acetyl-CoA carboxylase in the MKO mice were substantially higher than those in the Bmal1flox/flox mice. In addition, biochemical and histological studies confirmed the substantial activation of oxidative fibers in the skeletal muscle of the MKO mice. The mechanism includes the regulation of Cacna1s expression, followed by the activation of calcium—nuclear factor of activated T cells (NFAT) axis. We thus conclude that BMAL1 is a critical regulator of the muscular fatty acid level under nutrition overloading and that the mechanism involves the control of oxidative capacity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circadian Rhythms: Molecular and Physiological Mechanisms)
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Open AccessArticle
Impaired Photic Entrainment of Spontaneous Locomotor Activity in Mice Overexpressing Human Mutant α-Synuclein
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2018, 19(6), 1651; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms19061651 - 03 Jun 2018
Cited by 7
Abstract
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is characterized by distinct motor and non-motor symptoms. Sleep disorders are the most frequent and challenging non-motor symptoms in PD patients, and there is growing evidence that they are a consequence of disruptions within the circadian system. PD is characterized [...] Read more.
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is characterized by distinct motor and non-motor symptoms. Sleep disorders are the most frequent and challenging non-motor symptoms in PD patients, and there is growing evidence that they are a consequence of disruptions within the circadian system. PD is characterized by a progressive degeneration of the dorsal vagal nucleus and midbrain dopaminergic neurons together with an imbalance of many other neurotransmitters. Mutations in α-synuclein (SNCA), a protein modulating SNARE complex-dependent neurotransmission, trigger dominantly inherited PD variants and sporadic cases of PD. The A53T SNCA missense mutation is associated with an autosomal dominant early-onset familial PD. To test whether this missense mutation affects the circadian system, we analyzed the spontaneous locomotor behavior of non-transgenic wildtype mice and transgenic mice overexpressing mutant human A53T α-synuclein (A53T). The mice were subjected to entrained- and free-running conditions as well as to experimental jet lag. Furthermore, the vesicular glutamate transporter 2 (VGLUT2) in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) was analyzed by immunohistochemistry. Free-running circadian rhythm and, thus, circadian rhythm generation, were not affected in A53T mice. A53T mice entrained to the light–dark cycle, however, with an advanced phase angle of 2.65 ± 0.5 h before lights off. Moreover, re-entrainment after experimental jet lag was impaired in A53T mice. Finally, VGLUT2 immunoreaction was reduced in the SCN of A53T mice. These data suggest an impaired light entrainment of the circadian system in A53T mice. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circadian Rhythms: Molecular and Physiological Mechanisms)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Circadian (De)regulation in Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20(11), 2662; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20112662 - 30 May 2019
Cited by 4
Abstract
Head and neck cancer encompass different malignancies that develop in and around the throat, larynx, nose, sinuses and mouth. Most head and neck cancers are squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCC) that arise in the flat squamous cells that makeup the thin layer of tissue [...] Read more.
Head and neck cancer encompass different malignancies that develop in and around the throat, larynx, nose, sinuses and mouth. Most head and neck cancers are squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCC) that arise in the flat squamous cells that makeup the thin layer of tissue on the surface of anatomical structures in the head and neck. Each year, HNSCC is diagnosed in more than 600,000 people worldwide, with about 50,000 new cases. HNSCC is considered extremely curable if detected early. But the problem remains in treatment of inoperable cases, residues or late stages. Circadian rhythm regulation has a big role in developing various carcinomas, and head and neck tumors are no exception. A number of studies have reported that alteration in clock gene expression is associated with several cancers, including HNSCC. Analyses on circadian clock genes and their association with HNSCC have shown that expression of PER1, PER2, PER3, CRY1, CRY2, CKIε, TIM, and BMAL1 are deregulated in HNSCC tissues. This review paper comprehensively presents data on deregulation of circadian genes in HNSCC and critically evaluates their potential diagnostics and prognostics role in this type of pathology. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circadian Rhythms: Molecular and Physiological Mechanisms)
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Open AccessReview
A Symphony of Signals: Intercellular and Intracellular Signaling Mechanisms Underlying Circadian Timekeeping in Mice and Flies
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20(9), 2363; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20092363 - 13 May 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
The central pacemakers of circadian timekeeping systems are highly robust yet adaptable, providing the temporal coordination of rhythms in behavior and physiological processes in accordance with the demands imposed by environmental cycles. These features of the central pacemaker are achieved by a multi-oscillator [...] Read more.
The central pacemakers of circadian timekeeping systems are highly robust yet adaptable, providing the temporal coordination of rhythms in behavior and physiological processes in accordance with the demands imposed by environmental cycles. These features of the central pacemaker are achieved by a multi-oscillator network in which individual cellular oscillators are tightly coupled to the environmental day-night cycle, and to one another via intercellular coupling. In this review, we will summarize the roles of various neurotransmitters and neuropeptides in the regulation of circadian entrainment and synchrony within the mammalian and Drosophila central pacemakers. We will also describe the diverse functions of protein kinases in the relay of input signals to the core oscillator or the direct regulation of the molecular clock machinery. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circadian Rhythms: Molecular and Physiological Mechanisms)
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Open AccessReview
Circadian Regulation in Tissue Regeneration
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20(9), 2263; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20092263 - 08 May 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
Circadian rhythms regulate over 40% of protein-coding genes in at least one organ in the body through mechanisms tied to the central circadian clock and to cell-intrinsic auto-regulatory feedback loops. Distinct diurnal differences in regulation of regeneration have been found in several organs, [...] Read more.
Circadian rhythms regulate over 40% of protein-coding genes in at least one organ in the body through mechanisms tied to the central circadian clock and to cell-intrinsic auto-regulatory feedback loops. Distinct diurnal differences in regulation of regeneration have been found in several organs, including skin, intestinal, and hematopoietic systems. Each regenerating system contains a complex network of cell types with different circadian mechanisms contributing to regeneration. In this review, we elucidate circadian regeneration mechanisms in the three representative systems. We also suggest circadian regulation of global translational activity as an understudied global regulator of regenerative capacity. A more detailed understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying circadian regulation of tissue regeneration would accelerate the development of new regenerative therapies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circadian Rhythms: Molecular and Physiological Mechanisms)
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Open AccessReview
Molecular and Cellular Networks in The Suprachiasmatic Nuclei
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20(8), 2052; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20082052 - 25 Apr 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Why do we experience the ailments of jetlag when we travel across time zones? Why is working night-shifts so detrimental to our health? In other words, why can’t we readily choose and stick to non-24 h rhythms? Actually, our daily behavior and physiology [...] Read more.
Why do we experience the ailments of jetlag when we travel across time zones? Why is working night-shifts so detrimental to our health? In other words, why can’t we readily choose and stick to non-24 h rhythms? Actually, our daily behavior and physiology do not simply result from the passive reaction of our organism to the external cycle of days and nights. Instead, an internal clock drives the variations in our bodily functions with a period close to 24 h, which is supposed to enhance fitness to regular and predictable changes of our natural environment. This so-called circadian clock relies on a molecular mechanism that generates rhythmicity in virtually all of our cells. However, the robustness of the circadian clock and its resilience to phase shifts emerge from the interaction between cell-autonomous oscillators within the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) of the hypothalamus. Thus, managing jetlag and other circadian disorders will undoubtedly require extensive knowledge of the functional organization of SCN cell networks. Here, we review the molecular and cellular principles of circadian timekeeping, and their integration in the multi-cellular complexity of the SCN. We propose that new, in vivo imaging techniques now enable to address these questions directly in freely moving animals. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circadian Rhythms: Molecular and Physiological Mechanisms)
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Open AccessReview
Meal Timing, Aging, and Metabolic Health
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20(8), 1911; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20081911 - 18 Apr 2019
Cited by 5
Abstract
A growing body of evidence suggests that meal timing is an important factor for metabolic regulation and that the circadian clock tightly interacts with metabolic functions. The proper functioning of the circadian clock is critical for maintaining metabolic health. Therefore, chrononutrition, a novel [...] Read more.
A growing body of evidence suggests that meal timing is an important factor for metabolic regulation and that the circadian clock tightly interacts with metabolic functions. The proper functioning of the circadian clock is critical for maintaining metabolic health. Therefore, chrononutrition, a novel discipline which investigates the relation between circadian rhythms, nutrition, and metabolism, has attracted increasing attention in recent years. Circadian rhythms are strongly affected by obesity, type 2 diabetes, and other dietary-induced metabolic diseases. With increasing age, the circadian system also undergoes significant changes which contribute to the dysregulation of metabolic rhythms. Metabolic diseases are a major health concern, particularly in light of a growing aging population, and effective approaches for their prevention and treatment are urgently needed. Recently, animal studies have impressively shown beneficial effects of several dietary patterns (e.g., caloric restriction or time-restricted feeding) on circadian rhythms and metabolic outcomes upon nutritional challenges. Whether these dietary patterns show the same beneficial effects in humans is, however, less well studied. As indicated by recent studies, dietary approaches might represent a promising, attractive, and easy-to-adapt strategy for the prevention and therapy of circadian and metabolic disturbances in humans of different age. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circadian Rhythms: Molecular and Physiological Mechanisms)
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Open AccessReview
Mechanisms of Communication in the Mammalian Circadian Timing System
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20(2), 343; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20020343 - 15 Jan 2019
Cited by 11
Abstract
24-h rhythms in physiology and behaviour are organized by a body-wide network of endogenous circadian clocks. In mammals, a central pacemaker in the hypothalamic suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) integrates external light information to adapt cellular clocks in all tissues and organs to the external [...] Read more.
24-h rhythms in physiology and behaviour are organized by a body-wide network of endogenous circadian clocks. In mammals, a central pacemaker in the hypothalamic suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) integrates external light information to adapt cellular clocks in all tissues and organs to the external light-dark cycle. Together, central and peripheral clocks co-regulate physiological rhythms and functions. In this review, we outline the current knowledge about the routes of communication between the environment, the main pacemakers and the downstream clocks in the body, focusing on what we currently know and what we still need to understand about the communication mechanisms by which centrally and peripherally controlled timing signals coordinate physiological functions and behaviour. We highlight recent findings that shed new light on the internal organization and function of the SCN and neuroendocrine mechanisms mediating clock-to-clock coupling. These findings have implications for our understanding of circadian network entrainment and for potential manipulations of the circadian clock system in therapeutic settings. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circadian Rhythms: Molecular and Physiological Mechanisms)
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