Introduction to the Clock System

Kimberly H. Cox, Joseph S. Takahashi

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

3 Scopus citations


Circadian (24-h) rhythms dictate almost everything we do, setting our clocks for specific times of sleeping and eating, as well as optimal times for many other basic functions. The physiological systems that coordinate circadian rhythms are intricate, but at their core, they all can be distilled down to cell-autonomous rhythms that are then synchronized within and among tissues. At first glance, these cell-autonomous rhythms may seem rather straight-forward, but years of research in the field has shown that they are strikingly complex, responding to many different external signals, often with remarkable tissue-specificity. To understand the cellular clock system, it is important to be familiar with the major players, which consist of pairs of proteins in a triad of transcriptional/translational feedback loops. In this chapter, we will go through each of the core protein pairs one-by-one, summarizing the literature as to their regulation and their broader impacts on circadian gene expression. We will conclude by briefly examining the human genetics literature, as well as providing perspectives on the future of the study of the molecular clock.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAdvances in Experimental Medicine and Biology
Number of pages18
StatePublished - 2021

Publication series

NameAdvances in Experimental Medicine and Biology
ISSN (Print)0065-2598
ISSN (Electronic)2214-8019


  • Cell-autonomous
  • Circadian rhythms
  • Core clock
  • Feedback loops
  • Molecular clock

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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