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BioMed Research International
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 235781, 8 pages
Review Article

Functional Development of the Circadian Clock in the Zebrafish Pineal Gland

1Department of Neurobiology, George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences and Sagol School of Neuroscience, Tel-Aviv University, 69978 Tel-Aviv, Israel
2Institute of Toxicology and Genetics, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, 76344 Eggenstein-Leopoldshafen, Germany

Received 26 January 2014; Accepted 13 March 2014; Published 16 April 2014

Academic Editor: Estela Muñoz

Copyright © 2014 Zohar Ben-Moshe et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The zebrafish constitutes a powerful model organism with unique advantages for investigating the vertebrate circadian timing system and its regulation by light. In particular, the remarkably early and rapid development of the zebrafish circadian system has facilitated exploring the factors that control the onset of circadian clock function during embryogenesis. Here, we review our understanding of the molecular basis underlying functional development of the central clock in the zebrafish pineal gland. Furthermore, we examine how the directly light-entrainable clocks in zebrafish cell lines have facilitated unravelling the general mechanisms underlying light-induced clock gene expression. Finally, we summarize how analysis of the light-induced transcriptome and miRNome of the zebrafish pineal gland has provided insight into the regulation of the circadian system by light, including the involvement of microRNAs in shaping the kinetics of light- and clock-regulated mRNA expression. The relative contributions of the pineal gland central clock and the distributed peripheral oscillators to the synchronization of circadian rhythms at the whole animal level are a crucial question that still remains to be elucidated in the zebrafish model.