Genetics and molecular analysis of circadian rhythms

Annu Rev Genet. 1996;30:579-601. doi: 10.1146/annurev.genet.30.1.579.


The first part of this review summarizes the two best understood aspects of the two best understood circadian systems, the feedback oscillators of Neurospora and Drosophila, concentrating on what we know about the frequency (frq), period (per) and timeless (tim) genes. In the second part, the general circadian genetic and molecular literature is surveyed, with an eye to describing what is known from a variety of systems about input to the oscillator (entrainment), and how the oscillator might work and be temperature compensated, in emerging systems including Synechococcus, Gonyaulax, Arabidopsis, hamsters, and mice. Finally, the conversation of the molecular components of clocks is analyzed: both frq and per are widely conserved in their respective phylogenetic classes. Pharmacological data suggests that most other organisms use a day-phased oscillator of the type seen in Neurospora rather than a night-phased oscillator such as in Drosophila.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Circadian Rhythm / genetics*
  • Drosophila / genetics
  • Drosophila / physiology
  • Light
  • Neurospora / genetics
  • Neurospora / physiology