Membrane currents, gene expression, and circadian clocks

Charles N. Allen, Michael N. Nitabach, Christopher S. Colwell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Neuronal circadian oscillators in the mammalian and Drosophila brain express a circadian clock comprised of interlocking gene transcription feedback loops. The genetic clock regulates the membrane electrical activity by poorly understood signaling pathways to generate a circadian pattern of action potential firing. During the day, Na+channels contribute an excitatory drive for the spontaneous activity of circadian clock neurons. Multiple types of K+channels regulate the action potential firing pattern and the nightly reduction in neuronal activity. The membrane electrical activity possibly signaling by changes in intracellular Ca2+and cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) regulates the activity of the gene clock. A decline in the signaling pathways that link the gene clock and neural activity during aging and disease may weaken the circadian output and generate significant impacts on human health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbera027714
JournalCold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Biology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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