Embryonic development of circadian clocks in the mammalian suprachiasmatic nuclei

Dominic Landgral, Christiane E. Koch, Henrik Oster*

*Korrespondierende/r Autor/-in für diese Arbeit
9 Zitate (Scopus)


In most species, self-sustained molecular clocks regulate 24-h rhythms of behavior and physiology. In mammals, a circadian pacemaker residing in the hypothalamic suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) receives photic signals from the retina and synchronizes subordinate clocks in non-SCN tissues. The emergence of circadian rhythmicity during development has been extensively studied for many years. In mice, neuronal development in the presumptive SCN region of the embryonic hypothalamus occurs on days 12-15 of gestation. Intra-SCN circuits differentiate during the following days and retinal projections reach the SCN, and thus mediate photic entrainment, only after birth. In contrast the genetic components of the clock gene machinery are expressed much earlier and during midgestation SCN explants and isolated neurons are capable of generating molecular oscillations in culture. In vivo metabolic rhythms in the SCN, however, are observed not earlier than the 19th day of rat gestation, and rhythmic expression of clock genes is hardly detectable until after birth. Together these data indicate that cellular coupling and, thus, tissue-wide synchronization of single-cell rhythms, may only develop very late during embryogenesis. In this mini-review we describe the developmental origin of the SCN structure and summarize our current knowledge about the functional initiation and entrainment of the circadian pacemaker during embryonic development.

ZeitschriftFrontiers in Neuroanatomy
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 01.12.2014


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