Interaction Between Central and Peripheral Clocks in Mammals



Nearly all physiological processes in mammalian organisms undergo daily oscillations. These rhythms are not just driven by environmental changes created by the earth’s rotation around its own axis, but are coordinated by a sophisticated, hierarchically organized timing system. In fact, self-sustained and cell-autonomous clocks are ticking in nearly all body cells and even in cells kept in tissue culture. When monitored in individual cells, the period lengths of the cycles vary from cell to cell and, over time, even within the same cell. In animals, however, the cellular clocks are synchronized within and between organs by numerous signaling pathways governed by cyclic signals controlled by the master circadian pacemaker in the brain’s suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) and the environment. This chapter reviews some of our knowledge on how phase coherence is established in the body. Obviously, only synchronized circadian clocks can produces overt rhythms in physiology and behavior.


Mammalian circadian timing system Central and peripheral oscillators Suprachiasmatic nucleus Liver Synchronization of circadian gene expression Feeding-fasting rhythms Body temperature rhythms 



I thank Cold Spring Harbor Press for the permission of having reprinted or adapted some manuscript sections from [44] and Nicolas Roggli for the artwork. Research in my laboratory was supported by the European Research Council (ERC-AdG TimeSignal), the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF 31-113565, SNF 31-128656/1, and the NCCR program grant Frontiers in Genetics), the State of Geneva, and the Louis-Jeantet Foundation of Medicine.


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© Springer (India) Pvt. Ltd. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Molecular BiologySciences IIIGenevaSwitzerland

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