An essential component of energy homeostasis lies in an organism’s ability to coordinate daily patterns in activity, feeding, energy utilization and energy storage across the daily 24-h cycle. Most tissues of the body contain the molecular clock machinery required for circadian oscillation and rhythmic gene expression. Under normal circumstances, behavioural and physiological rhythms are orchestrated and synchronized by the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) of the hypothalamus, considered to be the master circadian clock. However, metabolic processes are easily decoupled from the primarily light-driven SCN when food intake is desynchronized from normal diurnal patterns of activity. This dissociation from SCN based timing demonstrates that the circadian system is responsive to changes in energy supply and metabolic status. There has long been evidence for the existence of an anatomically distinct and autonomous food-entrainable oscillator (FEO) that can govern behavioural rhythms, when feeding becomes the dominant entraining stimulus. But now rapidly growing evidence suggests that core circadian clock genes are involved in reciprocal transcriptional feedback with genetic regulators of metabolism, and are directly responsive to cellular energy supply. This close interaction is likely to be critical for normal circadian regulation of metabolism, and may also underlie the disruption of proper metabolic rhythms observed in metabolic disorders, such as obesity and type-II diabetes.
Volume 101, 2022
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