Retinal circadian clocks and control of retinal physiology

J Biol Rhythms. 2004 Apr;19(2):91-102. doi: 10.1177/0748730404263002.


Retinas of all classes of vertebrates contain endogenous circadian clocks that control many aspects of retinal physiology, including retinal sensitivity to light, neurohormone synthesis, and cellular events such as rod disk shedding, intracellular signaling pathways, and gene expression. The vertebrate retina is an example of a "peripheral" oscillator that is particularly amenable to study because this tissue is well characterized, the relationships between the various cell types are extensively studied, and many local clock-controlled rhythms are known. Although the existence of a photoreceptor clock is well established in several species, emerging data are consistent with multiple or dual oscillators within the retina that interact to control local physiology. A prominent example is the antiphasic regulation of melaton in and dopamine in photoreceptors and inner retina, respectively. This review focuses on the similarities and differences in the molecular mechanisms of the retinal versus the SCN oscillators, as well as on the expression of core components of the circadian clockwork in retina. Finally, the interactions between the retinal clock(s) and the master clock in the SCN are examined.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Clocks*
  • Circadian Rhythm*
  • Humans
  • Light
  • Models, Biological
  • Oscillometry
  • Photoreceptor Cells
  • Retina / physiology*