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Animal clocks: a multitude of molecular mechanisms for circadian timekeeping

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Abstract Studies in various model organisms reveal that the expression level of a substantial part of the transcriptome and the proteome exhibits regular daily oscillations. These oscillations are translated to physiological and behavioral rhythms allowing organisms to efficiently anticipate and respond to the daily and seasonally changing environment (e.g., temperature and light). A rather small subset of evolutionary conserved genes drives these oscillations and constitutes the core molecular circadian clock. Here, we review the multiple mechanisms that coexist at various molecular and cellular levels and are involved in the metazoan circadian clock, including transcription/translation negative feedback loops, post‐transcriptional and post‐translational modifications, intracellular translocation, and intercellular signaling. WIREs RNA 2011 2 312–320 DOI: 10.1002/wrna.58 This article is categorized under: RNA Interactions with Proteins and Other Molecules > Protein–RNA Interactions: Functional Implications RNA in Disease and Development > RNA in Development

Molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying the metazoan circadian clock. Studies in mammals and Drosophila indicate that multiple mechanisms may operate in the same pacemaker cells, ensuring a robust oscillation of the clock. Intercellular interactions between these cell‐autonomous pacemakers add a further dimension to the clock, resulting in a collective rhythmicity. Note that the size, position, and direction of the cogs in this figure are arbitrary and do not reflect the impact of each mechanism, which is yet to be discovered. See text for a detailed description of these mechanisms.

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RNA Interactions with Proteins and Other Molecules > Protein–RNA Interactions: Functional Implications
RNA in Disease and Development > RNA in Development

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