Synchronisation and coupling mechanisms of the mammalian circadian clock

7 Oct 2011

Adrián Granada
Institute for Theoretical Biology
Humboldt University, Berlin


Circadian clocks are endogenous oscillators driving daily rhythms in physiology and behaviour, such as sleep-wake and temperature cycles. In mammals, these rhythms are centrally controlled by a tiny neuronal nucleus located in the hypothalamus, the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). SCN cells synchronize with each other and generate a robust self-sustained oscillation of around 24 hours that drives locomotor and hormonal daily rhythms.

In this talk I will discuss several puzzling features of this network of coupled oscillators: robust synchronization of SCN neurons, jetlag associated transients, coupling mechanisms, limits of entrainment, and heterogeneity. I will give an overview of the theoretical and experimental efforts we have made to unveil properties of the mammalian circadian system. Finally, I will describe some open questions together with our speculations. Hopefully, at the end we can discuss how to test our ideas and where to go from here.

current theory lunch schedule