Photic entrainment of the circadian clock: from Drosophila to mammals

Semin Cell Dev Biol. 2001 Aug;12(4):317-28. doi: 10.1006/scdb.2001.0259.


Entrainment is as fundamental to an organism's circadian timing as are the molecular mechanisms involved in the functioning of the intracellular clock oscillator. In nature, one of the principle, although not the only, circadian entraining stimulus (Zeitgeber) is provided by the daily light--dark cycles. In animals, the visual processing apparatus alone is inadequate to accomplish the task of transducing circadian photic signals to the clockwork machinery. In fact, it is ever more appreciated by circadian biologists that organisms as divergent as plants and mammals have evolved a wonderfully complex array of partly redundant specializations which can guarantee the precise alignment of biological and environmental time. Research in circadian biology is cruising at such a rate that attempts to review the state of the art can only hope, at best, to provide a snapshot of the speeding cruiser from its wake. This paper will hopefully provide a reasonably sharp portrayal of what is at hand.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Clocks / genetics
  • Biological Clocks / physiology*
  • Circadian Rhythm*
  • Drosophila / genetics
  • Drosophila / physiology*
  • Light
  • Mammals
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Photoreceptor Cells, Invertebrate / physiology*
  • Retinal Pigments / genetics
  • Retinal Pigments / physiology*


  • Retinal Pigments