Research Topic

Intrinsic Clocks

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Species have developed mechanisms to synchronize their cellular oscillations in order to anticipate and adapt to routine fluctuations in environmental conditions. The most studied intrinsic clocks are the circadian clocks that generate and maintain the approximately 24-hour rhythms. These clocks are ...

Species have developed mechanisms to synchronize their cellular oscillations in order to anticipate and adapt to routine fluctuations in environmental conditions. The most studied intrinsic clocks are the circadian clocks that generate and maintain the approximately 24-hour rhythms. These clocks are universal, and they evolve when subjected to selection and display properties which contribute to variation in fitness and survival under changing environmental conditions.

Individuals suffering from mood disorders often have disruptions in their circadian rhythms. Because the sleep-wake rhythm is dictated by the master circadian clock, these disruptions are often seen as sleeping problems. Within specific regions in the brain, dysfunction of proteins encoded from circadian clock genes is hypothesized to play a role in the etiology of mood disorders, but it is not known yet in detail how cellular dysfunctions translate into depressed mood and these puzzling mechanisms are still largely unexplored and thus of high scientific interest.

This Research Topic presents the current research activities on intrinsic clocks and their contributions to biology, physiology, and medicine. It includes contributions from many distinguished scientists from a range of disciplines. The Research Topic broadly and deeply elucidates the current model for the mammalian circadian clock, the molecular components and functional screens for key mechanisms of intrinsic clocks, key brain regions, and animal models for behavioral analysis of the circadian physiology. It provides the timely view on how these clocks guide behavior and how disruption in their functions affect mood and may cause depression and cognitive impairment. Thereby, any specific method by which the mood-related functions of the circadian clocks might be influenced bears therapeutic potential and has clinical interest.

Genes that encode proteins for repression of the interactive loops of transcription and translation in the core of the circadian clock and act as “the breaks” are essential to the normal functions of circadian clocks. Therefore, this Research Topic also studies in depth the specific roles of cryptochromes, and those of PER2 and PER3 genes in mood regulation and behavior, and finally it presents the current research data on small-molecule compounds that target the CRY1 and CRY2 proteins.


Keywords: activity, affective, ambient, amplitude, animal, behavior, biology, body, brain, circadian, clock, cycle, darkness, depressive, desynchronization, disorder, diurnal, endogenous, entrainment, eye, gene, human, immune, infradian, intrinsic, light, mammalian, medicine, metabolism, misalignment, mood, neuron, nocturnal, oscillation, period, phase, physiology, primate, protein, reset, rhythm, rodent, seasonal, sleep, suprachiasmatic, temperature, time, transcription, translation, ultradian, wakefulness


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