Harmonics of circadian gene transcription in mammals

Michael E. Hughes, Luciano DiTacchio, Kevin R. Hayes, Christopher Vollmers, S. Pulivarthy, Julie E. Baggs, Satchidananda Panda, John B. Hogenesch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

460 Scopus citations


The circadian clock is a molecular and cellular oscillator found in most mammalian tissues that regulates rhythmic physiology and behavior. Numerous investigations have addressed the contribution of circadian rhythmicity to cellular, organ, and organismal physiology. We recently developed a method to look at transcriptional oscillations with unprecedented precision and accuracy using high-density time sampling. Here, we report a comparison of oscillating transcription from mouse liver, NIH3T3, and U2OS cells. Several surprising observations resulted from this study, including a 100-fold difference in the number of cycling transcripts in autonomous cellular models of the oscillator versus tissues harvested from intact mice. Strikingly, we found two clusters of genes that cycle at the second and third harmonic of circadian rhythmicity in liver, but not cultured cells. Validation experiments show that 12-hour oscillatory transcripts occur in several other peripheral tissues as well including heart, kidney, and lungs. These harmonics are lost ex vivo, as well as under restricted feeding conditions. Taken in sum, these studies illustrate the importance of time sampling with respect to multiple testing, suggest caution in use of autonomous cellular models to study clock output, and demonstrate the existence of harmonics of circadian gene expression in the mouse.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPLoS genetics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2009


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