WNT Takes Two to Tango: Molecular Links between the Circadian Clock and the Cell Cycle in Adult Stem Cells

J Biol Rhythms. 2018 Feb;33(1):5-14. doi: 10.1177/0748730417745913. Epub 2017 Dec 26.


Like two dancers, the circadian clock and cell cycle are biological oscillators engaged in bidirectional communication, resulting in circadian clock-gated cell division cycles in species ranging from cyanobacteria to mammals. The identified mechanisms for this phenomenon have expanded beyond intracellular molecular coupling components to include intercellular connections. However, detailed molecular mechanisms, dynamics, and physiological functions of the circadian clock and cell cycle as coupled oscillators remain largely unknown. In this review, we discuss current understanding of this connection in light of recent findings that have uncovered intercellular coupling between the circadian clock in Paneth cells and the cell cycle in intestinal stem cells via WNT signaling. This extends the impact of circadian rhythms regulating the timing of cell divisions beyond the intracellular domain of homogenous cell populations into dynamic, multicellular systems. In-depth understanding of the molecular links and dynamics of these two oscillators will identify potential targets and temporal regimens for effective chronotherapy.

Keywords: WNT signaling; adult stem cells; cell cycle; circadian clock; coupled oscillators.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • Adult Stem Cells / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Cell Cycle / physiology*
  • Circadian Clocks / physiology*
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Wnt Proteins / metabolism*
  • Wnt Signaling Pathway / physiology*


  • Wnt Proteins