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Concept: Period


The circadian regulatory network is organized in a hierarchical fashion, with a central oscillator in the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) orchestrating circadian oscillations in peripheral tissues. The nature of the relationship between central and peripheral oscillators, however, is poorly understood. We used the tetOFF expression system to specifically restore Clock function in the brains of Clock(Δ19) mice, which have compromised circadian clocks. Rescued mice showed normal locomotor rhythms in constant darkness, with activity period lengths approximating wildtype controls. We used microarray analysis to assess whether brain-specific rescue of circadian rhythmicity was sufficient to restore circadian transcriptional output in the liver. Compared to Clock mutants, Clock-rescue mice showed significantly larger numbers of cycling transcripts with appropriate phase and period lengths, including many components of the core circadian oscillator. This indicates that the SCN oscillator overcomes local circadian defects and signals directly to the molecular clock. Interestingly, the vast majority of core clock genes in liver were responsive to Clock expression in the SCN, suggesting that core clock genes in peripheral tissues are intrinsically sensitive to SCN cues. Nevertheless, most circadian output in the liver was absent or severely low-amplitude in Clock-rescue animals, demonstrating that the majority of peripheral transcriptional rhythms depend on a fully functional local circadian oscillator. We identified several new system-driven rhythmic genes in the liver, including Alas1 and Mfsd2. Finally, we show that 12-hour transcriptional rhythms (i.e., circadian “harmonics”) are disrupted by Clock loss-of-function. Brain-specific rescue of Clock converted 12-hour rhythms into 24-hour rhythms, suggesting that signaling via the central circadian oscillator is required to generate one of the two daily peaks of expression. Based on these data, we conclude that 12-hour rhythms are driven by interactions between central and peripheral circadian oscillators.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Gene expression, Oscillation, Circadian rhythm, Period, Periodic function, CLOCK


Circadian (∼24 h) timekeeping is essential for the lives of many organisms. To understand the biochemical mechanisms of this timekeeping, we have developed a detailed mathematical model of the mammalian circadian clock. Our model can accurately predict diverse experimental data including the phenotypes of mutations or knockdown of clock genes as well as the time courses and relative expression of clock transcripts and proteins. Using this model, we show how a universal motif of circadian timekeeping, where repressors tightly bind activators rather than directly binding to DNA, can generate oscillations when activators and repressors are in stoichiometric balance. Furthermore, we find that an additional slow negative feedback loop preserves this stoichiometric balance and maintains timekeeping with a fixed period. The role of this mechanism in generating robust rhythms is validated by analysis of a simple and general model and a previous model of the Drosophila circadian clock. We propose a double-negative feedback loop design for biological clocks whose period needs to be tightly regulated even with large changes in gene dosage.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Biology, Control theory, Feedback, Negative feedback, Period, CLOCK


Laboratory studies have demonstrated that circadian clocks align physiology and behavior to 24-h environmental cycles. Examination of athletic performance has been used to discern the functions of these clocks in humans outside of controlled settings. Here, we examined the effects of jet lag, that is, travel that shifts the alignment of 24-h environmental cycles relative to the endogenous circadian clock, on specific performance metrics in Major League Baseball. Accounting for potential differences in home and away performance, travel direction, and team confounding variables, we observed that jet-lag effects were largely evident after eastward travel with very limited effects after westward travel, consistent with the >24-h period length of the human circadian clock. Surprisingly, we found that jet lag impaired major parameters of home-team offensive performance, for example, slugging percentage, but did not similarly affect away-team offensive performance. On the other hand, jet lag impacted both home and away defensive performance. Remarkably, the vast majority of these effects for both home and away teams could be explained by a single measure, home runs allowed. Rather than uniform effects, these results reveal surprisingly specific effects of circadian misalignment on athletic performance under natural conditions.

Concepts: Circadian rhythm, Period, Baseball, Jet lag, Major League Baseball, National League, Alex Rodriguez, Barry Bonds


Satellite temperature measurements do not support the recent claim of a “leveling off of warming” over the past two decades. Tropospheric warming trends over recent 20-year periods are always significantly larger (at the 10% level or better) than model estimates of 20-year trends arising from natural internal variability. Over the full 38-year period of the satellite record, the separation between observed warming and internal variability estimates is even clearer. In two out of three recent satellite datasets, the tropospheric warming from 1979 to 2016 is unprecedented relative to internally generated temperature trends on the 38-year timescale.

Concepts: Menstrual cycle, Period, Nature, Satellite temperature measurements


Sleep loss can severely impair the ability to perform, yet the ability to recover from sleep loss is not well understood. Sleep regulatory processes are assumed to lie exclusively within the brain mainly due to the strong behavioral manifestations of sleep. Whole-body knockout of the circadian clock gene Bmal1 in mice affects several aspects of sleep, however, the cells/tissues responsible are unknown. We found that restoring Bmal1 expression in the brains of Bmal1-knockout mice did not rescue Bmal1-dependent sleep phenotypes. Surprisingly, most sleep-amount, but not sleep-timing, phenotypes could be reproduced or rescued by knocking out or restoring BMAL1 exclusively in skeletal muscle, respectively. We also found that overexpression of skeletal-muscle Bmal1 reduced the recovery response to sleep loss. Together, these findings demonstrate that Bmal1 expression in skeletal muscle is both necessary and sufficient to regulate total sleep amount and reveal that critical components of normal sleep regulation occur in muscle.

Concepts: Gene, Sleep, Regulation, Circadian rhythm, Period, ARNTL, Necessary and sufficient condition, Chronotype


Circadian rhythms, metabolism, and nutrition are intimately linked [1, 2], although effects of meal timing on the human circadian system are poorly understood. We investigated the effect of a 5-hr delay in meals on markers of the human master clock and multiple peripheral circadian rhythms. Ten healthy young men undertook a 13-day laboratory protocol. Three meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner) were given at 5-hr intervals, beginning either 0.5 (early) or 5.5 (late) hr after wake. Participants were acclimated to early meals and then switched to late meals for 6 days. After each meal schedule, participants' circadian rhythms were measured in a 37-hr constant routine that removes sleep and environmental rhythms while replacing meals with hourly isocaloric snacks. Meal timing did not alter actigraphic sleep parameters before circadian rhythm measurement. In constant routines, meal timing did not affect rhythms of subjective hunger and sleepiness, master clock markers (plasma melatonin and cortisol), plasma triglycerides, or clock gene expression in whole blood. Following late meals, however, plasma glucose rhythms were delayed by 5.69 ± 1.29 hr (p < 0.001), and average glucose concentration decreased by 0.27 ± 0.05 mM (p < 0.001). In adipose tissue, PER2 mRNA rhythms were delayed by 0.97 ± 0.29 hr (p < 0.01), indicating that human molecular clocks may be regulated by feeding time and could underpin plasma glucose changes. Timed meals therefore play a role in synchronizing peripheral circadian rhythms in humans and may have particular relevance for patients with circadian rhythm disorders, shift workers, and transmeridian travelers.

Concepts: Sleep, Circadian rhythm, Period, ARNTL, Circadian rhythm sleep disorder, Melatonin, Dinner


Handgun waiting periods are laws that impose a delay between the initiation of a purchase and final acquisition of a firearm. We show that waiting periods, which create a “cooling off” period among buyers, significantly reduce the incidence of gun violence. We estimate the impact of waiting periods on gun deaths, exploiting all changes to state-level policies in the Unites States since 1970. We find that waiting periods reduce gun homicides by roughly 17%. We provide further support for the causal impact of waiting periods on homicides by exploiting a natural experiment resulting from a federal law in 1994 that imposed a temporary waiting period on a subset of states.

Concepts: Mathematics, United States, Experiment, Period, Law of the United States, Firearm, Gun, Handgun


Circadian rhythms with an endogenous period close to or equal to the natural light-dark cycle are considered evolutionarily adaptive (“circadian resonance hypothesis”). Despite remarkable insight into the molecular mechanisms driving circadian cycles, this hypothesis has not been tested under natural conditions for any eukaryotic organism. We tested this hypothesis in mice bearing a short-period mutation in the enzyme casein kinase 1ε (tau mutation), which accelerates free-running circadian cycles. We compared daily activity (feeding) rhythms, survivorship, and reproduction in six replicate populations in outdoor experimental enclosures, established with wild-type, heterozygous, and homozygous mice in a Mendelian ratio. In the release cohort, survival was reduced in the homozygote mutant mice, revealing strong selection against short-period genotypes. Over the course of 14 mo, the relative frequency of the tau allele dropped from initial parity to 20%. Adult survival and recruitment of juveniles into the population contributed approximately equally to the selection for wild-type alleles. The expression of activity during daytime varied throughout the experiment and was significantly increased by the tau mutation. The strong selection against the short-period tau allele observed here contrasts with earlier studies showing absence of selection against a Period 2 (Per2) mutation, which disrupts internal clock function, but does not change period length. These findings are consistent with, and predicted by the theory that resonance of the circadian system plays an important role in individual fitness.

Concepts: Gene, Genetics, Natural selection, Allele, Evolution, Circadian rhythm, Period, ARNTL


We detected land displacements of Venice by Persistent Scatterer Interferometry using ERS and ENVISAT C-band and TerraSAR-X and COSMO-SkyMed X-band acquisitions over the periods 1992-2010 and 2008-2011, respectively. By reason of the larger observation period, the C-band sensors was used to quantify the long-term movements, i.e. the subsidence component primarily ascribed to natural processes. The high resolution X-band satellites reveal a high effectiveness to monitor short-time movements as those induced by human activities. Interpolation of the two datasets and removal of the C-band from the X-band map allows discriminating between the natural and anthropogenic components of the subsidence. A certain variability characterizes the natural subsidence (0.9 ± 0.7 mm/yr), mainly because of the heterogeneous nature and age of the lagoon subsoil. The 2008 displacements show that man interventions are responsible for movements ranging from -10 to 2 mm/yr. These displacements are generally local and distributed along the margins of the city islands.

Concepts: Middle Ages, Period, Nature


Caffeine’s wakefulness-promoting and sleep-disrupting effects are well established, yet whether caffeine affects human circadian timing is unknown. We show that evening caffeine consumption delays the human circadian melatonin rhythm in vivo and that chronic application of caffeine lengthens the circadian period of molecular oscillations in vitro, primarily with an adenosine receptor/cyclic adenosine monophosphate (AMP)-dependent mechanism. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled, ~49-day long, within-subject study, we found that consumption of a caffeine dose equivalent to that in a double espresso 3 hours before habitual bedtime induced a ~40-min phase delay of the circadian melatonin rhythm in humans. This magnitude of delay was nearly half of the magnitude of the phase-delaying response induced by exposure to 3 hours of evening bright light (~3000 lux, ~7 W/m(2)) that began at habitual bedtime. Furthermore, using human osteosarcoma U2OS cells expressing clock gene luciferase reporters, we found a dose-dependent lengthening of the circadian period by caffeine. By pharmacological dissection and small interfering RNA knockdown, we established that perturbation of adenosine receptor signaling, but not ryanodine receptor or phosphodiesterase activity, was sufficient to account for caffeine’s effects on cellular timekeeping. We also used a cyclic AMP biosensor to show that caffeine increased cyclic AMP levels, indicating that caffeine influenced a core component of the cellular circadian clock. Together, our findings demonstrate that caffeine influences human circadian timing, showing one way that the world’s most widely consumed psychoactive drug affects human physiology.

Concepts: Adenosine triphosphate, In vivo, In vitro, Caffeine, Circadian rhythm, Period, Recreational drug use