A conserved DNA damage response pathway responsible for coupling the cell division cycle to the circadian and metabolic cycles

Zheng Chen, Steven L. McKnight

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

50 Scopus citations


The circadian clock drives endogenous oscillations of cellular and physiological processes with a periodicity of approximately 24 h. Progression of the cell division cycle (CDC) has been found to be coupled to the circadian clock, and it has been postulated that gating of the CDC by the circadian cycle may have evolved to protect DNA from the mutagenic effects of ultraviolet light. When grown under nutrient-limiting conditions in a chemostat, prototrophic strains of budding yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, adopt a robust metabolic cycle of ultradian dimensions that temporally compartmentalizes essential cellular events. The CDC is gated by this yeast metabolic cycle (YMC), with DNA replication strictly segregated away from the oxidative phase when cells are actively respiring. Mutants impaired in such gating allow DNA replication to take place during the respiratory phase of the YMC and have been found to suffer significantly elevated rates of spontaneous mutation. Analogous to the circadian cycle, the YMC also employs the conserved DNA checkpoint kinase Rad53/Chk2 to facilitate coupling with the CDC. These studies highlight an evolutionarily conserved mechanism that seems to confine cell division to particular temporal windows to prevent DNA damage. We hypothesize that DNA damage itself might constitute a "zeitgeber", or time giver, for both the circadian cycle and the metabolic cycle. We discuss these findings in the context of a unifying theme underlying the circadian and metabolic cycles, and explore the relevance of cell cycle gating to human diseases including cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2906-2912
Number of pages7
JournalCell Cycle
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2007



  • Cell cycle
  • Circadian clock
  • DNA damage
  • Yeast metabolic cycle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology

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