Whitmore, D., Foulkes, N.S., and Sassone-Corsi, P. (2000) Light acts directly on organs and cells in culture to set the vertebrate circadian clock. Nature. 404(6773):87-91.
The expression of clock genes in vertebrates is widespread and not restricted to classical clock structures. The expression of the Clock gene in zebrafish shows a strong circadian oscillation in many tissues in vivo and in culture, showing that endogenous oscillators exist in peripheral organs. A defining feature of circadian clocks is that they can be set or entrained to local time, usually by the environmental light-dark cycle. An important question is whether peripheral oscillators are entrained to local time by signals from central pacemakers such as the eyes or are themselves directly light-responsive. Here we show that the peripheral organ clocks of zebrafish are set by light-dark cycles in culture. We also show that a zebrafish-derived cell line contains a circadian oscillator, which is also directly light entrained.