BIOL 413(F) Molecular Basis of Biological Clocks

Circadian rhythms have been described in all organisms studied, including humans, a wide range of other eukaryotes and several prokaryotes. With periods of about 24 hours, these rhythms regulate biochemical, cellular, physiological and behavioral activities. Circadian rhythms are generated by cellular clocks-genetically determined internal pacemakers that maintain their oscillations in the absence of environmental cues but may be reset by periodicities in the environment, especially the light-dark cycle. Only recently have we begun to understand how circadian rhythms are generated and controlled at the cellular level. This course will explore the basic biochemical features of biological clocks with the aim of understanding their crucial role in regulating key biological parameters, such as enzyme levels, levels of hormones and other regulatory molecules, and activity and sleep cycles. Class discussions will focus on readings in the original literature. Format: discussion, three hours per week. Evaluation will be based on class participation and several short papers. Prerequisites: Biology 202. Enrollment limit: 2 sections of 12 (expected: 2 sections of 12 ). Open to juniors and seniors, with preference given to senior Biology majors who have not taken a 400-level course.