The mammalian SCN contains a biological clock that drives remarkably precise circadian rhythms in vivo and in vitro. Recent advances have revealed molecular and cellular mechanisms required for the generation of these daily rhythms and their synchronization between SCN neurons and to the environmental light cycle. This review of the evidence for a cell-autonomous circadian pacemaker within specialized neurons of the SCN focuses on 6 genes implicated within the pacemaking mechanism, an additional 4 genes implicated in pathways from the pacemaker, and the intercellular and intracellular mechanisms that synchronize SCN neurons to each other and to solar time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)400-413
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Biological Rhythms
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2004


  • BMAL1
  • Cryptochrome
  • Entrainment
  • Fluorescent imaging
  • Luciferase
  • Multielectrode
  • Period gene
  • Stability
  • Vasoactive intestinal polypeptide
  • Vasopressin


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