The circadian rhythm controls telomeres and telomerase activity

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2014 Aug 29;451(3):408-14. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2014.07.138. Epub 2014 Aug 7.


Circadian clocks are fundamental machinery in organisms ranging from archaea to humans. Disruption of the circadian system is associated with premature aging in mice, but the molecular basis underlying this phenomenon is still unclear. In this study, we found that telomerase activity exhibits endogenous circadian rhythmicity in humans and mice. Human and mouse TERT mRNA expression oscillates with circadian rhythms and are under the control of CLOCK-BMAL1 heterodimers. CLOCK deficiency in mice causes loss of rhythmic telomerase activities, TERT mRNA oscillation, and shortened telomere length. Physicians with regular work schedules have circadian oscillation of telomerase activity while emergency physicians working in shifts lose the circadian rhythms of telomerase activity. These findings identify the circadian rhythm as a mechanism underlying telomere and telomerase activity control that serve as interconnections between circadian systems and aging.

Keywords: Aging; Circadian rhythm; Telomerase activity; Telomere.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • ARNTL Transcription Factors / physiology
  • Aging / physiology
  • Animals
  • CLOCK Proteins / deficiency
  • CLOCK Proteins / physiology
  • Circadian Clocks
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology*
  • Emergency Medical Services
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Physicians
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Telomerase / genetics
  • Telomerase / metabolism*
  • Telomere / metabolism*
  • Work Schedule Tolerance / physiology*
  • Workforce


  • ARNTL Transcription Factors
  • ARNTL protein, human
  • Arntl protein, mouse
  • RNA, Messenger
  • CLOCK Proteins
  • Clock protein, mouse
  • Telomerase