The primary interest of the laboratory is the organization of the circadian timing system of mice as a model for studying how circadian rhythms in behavior and physiology affect cancer and other diseases. The interactions between the circadian clocks of the nervous system that generate near 24-hour rhythms and the tissues of several target organs are being examined by imaging rhythms in gene expression of whole mice and tissue explant cultures. These cycles are recorded using bioluminescent transgenic mice containing the firefly luciferase gene controlled by immediate-early gene promoters of mPer1, c-fos, and the major immediate-early gene of the human cytomegalovirus. Long-term imaging identified coupled circadian rhythms within the pancreas and cornea and others in midbrain nuclei controlling feeding behavior. These gene expression assays in live cells are combined with pharmacology, histology, neural recordings, and behavioral monitoring to identify the signaling mechanisms acting between the circadian clocks of the nervous system and the body.
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