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The Suprachiasmatic Nucleus at 50: Looking Back, Then Looking Forward.

It has been 50 years since the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) was first identified as the central circadian clock and 25 years since the last overview of developments in the field was published in the Journal of Biological Rhythms . Here, we explore new mechanisms and concepts that have emerged in the subsequent 25 years. Since 1997, methodological developments, such as luminescent and fluorescent reporter techniques, have revealed intricate relationships between cellular and network-level mechanisms. In particular, specific neuropeptides such as arginine vasopressin, vasoactive intestinal peptide, and gastrin-releasing peptide have been identified as key players in the synchronization of cellular circadian rhythms within the SCN. The discovery of multiple oscillators governing behavioral and physiological rhythms has significantly advanced our understanding of the circadian clock. The interaction between neurons and glial cells has been found to play a crucial role in regulating these circadian rhythms within the SCN. Furthermore, the properties of the SCN network vary across ontogenetic stages. The application of cell type-specific genetic manipulations has revealed components of the functional input-output system of the SCN and their correlation with physiological functions. This review concludes with the high-risk effort of identifying open questions and challenges that lie ahead.

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