Circadian clocks are cellular timekeeping mechanisms that coordinate behavior and physiology around the 24-h day in most living organisms. Misalignment of an organism's clock with its environment is associated with long-term adverse fitness consequences, as exemplified by the link between circadian disruption and various age-related diseases in humans. Current eukaryotic models of the circadian oscillator rely on transcription/translation feedback loop mechanisms, supplemented with accessory cytosolic loops that connect them to cellular physiology. However, mounting evidence is questioning the absolute necessity of transcription-based oscillators for circadian rhythmicity, supported by the recent discovery of oxidation-reduction cycles of peroxiredoxin proteins, which persist even in the absence of transcription. A more fundamental mechanism based on metabolic cycles could thus underlie circadian transcriptional and cytosolic rhythms, thereby promoting circadian oscillations to integral properties of cellular metabolism.
Keywords: oscillator; oxidation-reduction; peroxiredoxin; posttranscriptional; posttranslational; redox.