David Klein's Section on Neuroendocrinology has played a dominant role in the circadian and pineal fields, maintaining a focus on the key regulatory enzyme arylalkylamine N-acetyltransferase. Recently, the Section's interests broadened to characterize the pineal transcriptome. Studies use cDNA microarrays to investigate the regulatory cascades that determine cell fate and maintain phenotype, in addition to the cascades dedicated to control of the daily global changes in gene expression. The daily changes involve nearly 1,000 genes, some of which exhibit 100-fold night/day differences in expression. Klein's Section uses a variety of approaches to analyze the cascades, including conditional knockouts and RNAi strategies. An initiative recently undertaken by the Section is characterizing the microRNAs expressed in the pineal gland in order to determine their role in controlling the pineal transcriptome. The Section has initiated collaborations with other PDEG researchers in an effort to extend the PDEG's analysis of melatonin to clinical studies, with the ultimate goal of facilitating the analysis of circadian function.
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