Precisely timing the regulation of gene expression by anticipating recurring environmental changes is a fundamental part of global gene regulation. Circadian clocks are one form of this regulation, which is found in both eukaryotes and prokaryotes, providing a fitness advantage for these organisms. Whereas many different eukaryotic groups harbour circadian clocks, cyanobacteria are the only known oxygenic phototrophic prokaryotes to regulate large parts of their genes in a circadian fashion. A decade of intensive research on the mechanisms and functionality using computational and mathematical approaches in addition to the detailed biochemical and biophysical understanding make this the best understood circadian clock. Here, we summarize the findings and insights into various parts of the cyanobacterial circadian clock made by mathematical modelling. These findings have implications for eukaryotic circadian research as well as synthetic biology harnessing the power and efficiency of global gene regulation.
Keywords: adaptation; circadian clock; entrainment; noise; oscillation; robustness.