Martino, T., Arab, S., Straume, M. et al. J Mol Med (2004) 82: 256. doi:10.1007/s00109-003-0520-1
Molecular circadian oscillators have recently been identified in heart and many other peripheral organs; however, little is known about the physiologic significance of circadian gene cycling in the periphery. While general temporal profiles of gene expression in the heart have been described under constant lighting conditions, patterns under normal day/night conditions may be distinctly different. To understand how gene expression contributes to cardiac function, especially in human beings, it is crucial to examine these patterns in 24-h light and dark environments. High-density oligonucleotide microarrays were used to assess myocardial expression of 12,488 murine genes at 3-h intervals under the normal conditions of light and dark cycling. Variation in genetic activity was considerable, as 1,634 genes (~13% of genes analyzed) exhibited statistically significant changes across the 24-h cycle. Some genes exhibited rhythmic expression, others showed abrupt change at light-to-dark and dark-to-light transitions. Importantly, genes that exhibited significant cycling rhythms mapped to key biological pathways, including for example cardiac cellular growth and remodeling, as well as transcription, translation, mitochondrial respiration, and signaling pathways. Gene expression in the heart is remarkably different in the day versus the night. Some gene cycling may be driven by the central circadian pacemaker, while other changes appear to be responses to light and dark. This has important implications regarding our understanding of how the molecular physiology of the heart is controlled, including temporal patterns of organ growth, renewal, and disease, comparative gene expression, and the most appropriate times for administration of therapy.