Neurobiology and Genetics

    The circadian clock modulates many aspects of an animal’s behavior and physiology in a rhythmic manner. Most likely all animals have evolved a common timekeeping mechanism because of the selective pressure induced by daily and seasonal changes in the environment which they are living in.
    Circadian rhythms, such as those in daily activity, are controlled by a master clock consisting of a network of clock neurons in the brain. The principle of molecular rhythm generation is similar between phylogenetically distant groups such as mammals and insects, though there are differences in the core clock components (Hardin, 2011). The same applies for the neuronal organization of the animal master clock in the brain. The brain clock is topographically and functionally structured in different parts containing populations of clock neurons that are heterogeneous in morphology, physiology and neurotransmitter content and fulfill slightly different functions. Per definition a clock neuron generates a self-sustained molecular rhythm through the interaction of clock genes and proteins. In D. melanogaster for example the key players of the molecular clockwork are per (PER), tim(TIM), cyc(CYC), Clk(CLK), vri (VRI) and pdp1 (PDP1). more


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