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Molecular Genetics of Circadian Rhythms

Team leader : François Rouyer

Circadian clocks are present in most living organisms and allow the adaptation of a large number of physiological and behavioral functions to the day-night cycles imposed by the rotation of the earth. Their period (24 hours) is genetically determined and they are synchronized with day-night cycles by environmental cues such as light and temperature.

The molecular clockwork involves several genes that participate to a negative transcriptional autoregulatory loop and that are largely conserved from insects to mammals. The circadian oscillator that controls sleep-wake cycles is located in the brain et stems upon a limited number of neurons that cyclically express clock genes. These neurons are part of a network that receives sensory inputs and generates a circadian message that is transmitted to different brain structures.

Our work focuses on Drosophila, one of the most powerful animal models for studying the cellular and molecular basis of sleep-wake rhythms.

Our research projects aim at understanding :
- The neuronal basis of the control of sleep-wake rhythms by the brain, their synchronization with day-night cycles and the transmission of the circadian information.
- The molecular mechanisms that underlie the circadian oscillator.
- The building of the circadian neuronal network during brain development.

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