Rhythmic Changes in Gene Activation Power the Circadian Clock
Rhythms underlie the daily functions of mammals, from sleep-wake cycles to metabolic processes in the liver. The circadian clock has evolved in response to daily changes in temperature and light in the environment. At the root of circadian rhythms are daily fluctuations in gene expression, which occur in part through the process of transcription—the creation of RNA from sequences of DNA. Although past studies have uncovered how changes in transcription states relate to irreversible processes, for example when cells become more specialized, much less is known about how transcription fluctuates in synch with recurring cycles.