Circadian clock genes in reproductive tissues and the developing conceptus.
Dolatshad H., Davis FC., Johnson MH.
The circadian (near 24-h) clock is involved in the temporal organisation of physiological and biochemical activities of many organisms, including humans. The clock functions through the rhythmic transcription and translation of several genes, forming an oscillatory feedback loop. Genetic analysis has shown that the circadian clock exists in both a central circadian pacemaker (i.e. the suprachiasmatic nucleus of the hypothalamus), as well as in most peripheral tissues. In particular, the circadian clockwork genes are expressed in all female and male reproductive tissues studied so far, as well as in the conceptus itself. The current data clearly show a robust rhythm in female reproductive tissues, but whether rhythmicity also exists in male reproductive tissues remains uncertain. Although the conceptus also expresses most of the canonical circadian genes, the rhythmicity of their expression is still under investigation. Published data indicate that environmental and genetic manipulations influence reproductive function and fecundity, suggesting an important role for the circadian clock in reproduction, and possibly early development.