Circadian clock core component Bmal1 dictates cell cycle rhythm of proliferating hepatocytes during liver regeneration

Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2021 Oct 1;321(4):G389-G399. doi: 10.1152/ajpgi.00204.2021. Epub 2021 Aug 25.


After partial hepatectomy (PH), the majority of remnant hepatocytes synchronously enter and rhythmically progress through the cell cycle for three major rounds to regain lost liver mass. Whether and how the circadian clock core component Bmal1 modulates this process remains elusive. We performed PH on Bmal1+/+ and hepatocyte-specific Bmal1 knockout (Bmal1hep-/-) mice and compared the initiation and progression of the hepatocyte cell cycle. After PH, Bmal1+/+ hepatocytes exhibited three major waves of nuclear DNA synthesis. In contrast, in Bmal1hep-/- hepatocytes, the first wave of nuclear DNA synthesis was delayed by 12 h, and the third such wave was lost. Following PH, Bmal1+/+ hepatocytes underwent three major waves of mitosis, whereas Bmal1hep-/- hepatocytes fully abolished mitotic oscillation. These Bmal1-dependent disruptions in the rhythmicity of hepatocyte cell cycle after PH were accompanied by suppressed expression peaks of a group of cell cycle components and regulators and dysregulated activation patterns of mitogenic signaling molecules c-Met and epidermal growth factor receptor. Moreover, Bmal1+/+ hepatocytes rhythmically accumulated fat as they expanded following PH, whereas this phenomenon was largely inhibited in Bmal1hep-/- hepatocytes. In addition, during late stages of liver regrowth, Bmal1 absence in hepatocytes caused the activation of redox sensor Nrf2, suggesting an oxidative stress state in regenerated liver tissue. Collectively, we demonstrated that during liver regeneration, Bmal1 partially modulates the oscillation of S-phase progression, fully controls the rhythmicity of M-phase advancement, and largely governs fluctuations in fat metabolism in replicating hepatocytes, as well as eventually determines the redox state of regenerated livers.NEW & NOTEWORTHY We demonstrated that Bmal1 centrally controls the synchronicity and rhythmicity of the cell cycle and lipid accumulation in replicating hepatocytes during liver regeneration. Bmal1 plays these roles, at least in part, by ensuring formation of the expression peaks of cell cycle components and regulators, as well as the timing and levels of activation of mitogenic signaling molecules.

Keywords: Bmal1; cell cycle; fat accumulation; hepatocyte proliferation; liver regeneration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • ARNTL Transcription Factors / genetics
  • ARNTL Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Cell Cycle*
  • Cell Proliferation*
  • Circadian Rhythm*
  • ErbB Receptors / metabolism
  • Hepatocytes / metabolism*
  • Hepatocytes / physiology
  • Liver Regeneration*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mitosis
  • NF-E2-Related Factor 2 / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-met / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction


  • ARNTL Transcription Factors
  • Arntl protein, mouse
  • NF-E2-Related Factor 2
  • Nfe2l2 protein, mouse
  • ErbB Receptors
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-met