Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

New PNAS paper finds that clock-target genes in mice livers become clock controlled only when the animals eat at unexpected times.

Schematic drawing showing male figure with food and liver drawing.

The study, led by Professor David Ray, used transgenic mice to probe how ‘clock’ genes are expressed in the liver.

Professor Ray, who worked with colleagues at the University of Manchester as well as OCDEM on this study, said, “We found that an enormous number of genes were potential clock targets, but that under conditions of healthy eating most were in fact not affected by the clock.  This was a surprising finding, and led us to ask why?”

Previous work has suggested that the circadian clock protein REVERBalpha is a key regulator of liver metabolism, and that this action might regulate body-clock related changes in how fat is synthesised and stored. But the research team instead found that liver clock genes were not driving body-clock driven rhythmic processes under normal conditions.

Instead, potential clock target genes only became clock controlled when the mice ate at unexpected times, similar to what might happen when people eat late at night, or during night shift work. 


We think that the clock in the liver serves to help smooth out the impact of irregular, or mistimed eating, so minimising the adverse impact on the rest of the body,
- Professor David Ray

Read the full paper, and an article about the findings in The Conversation

 Read more about Professor Ray’s work.


We want to hear about your news!

Publishing a paper? Just won an award? Get in touch with


Similar stories

New Studentship honours Enzo Cerundolo

A new Studentship has been announced in memory of the late MRC HIU Director and MRC WIMM Group Leader.

Doug Higgs awarded the 2023 Genetics Society Medal

The award recognises Professor Higgs' major contribution to our understanding of how mammalian genes are switched on and off, and using haematopoiesis as a model to understand how genes function.

2022 RDM Graduate Prize Winners

This year's winners are Edward Jenkins, Antje Rottner, and Akshay Shah.

KJ Patel appointed new Chief Scientist of CRUK

Alongside his new role at Cancer Research UK, Prof. Patel will continue as the Director of both the MRC Weatherall Institute for Molecular Medicine (MRC WIMM) and the MRC Molecular Haematology Unit (MRC MHU).

Anjali Kusumbe receives the RMS Life Sciences Medal

The Royal Microscopical Society awards celebrate the best in microscopy, recognising those making a special contribution to microscopy, cytometry and imaging.