Rhythmic expression of cryptochrome induces the circadian clock of arrhythmic suprachiasmatic nuclei through arginine vasopressin signaling.
ABSTRACT: Circadian rhythms in mammals are coordinated by the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). SCN neurons define circadian time using transcriptional/posttranslational feedback loops (TTFL) in which expression of Cryptochrome (Cry) and Period (Per) genes is inhibited by their protein products. Loss of Cry1 and Cry2 stops the SCN clock, whereas individual deletions accelerate and decelerate it, respectively. At the circuit level, neuronal interactions synchronize cellular TTFLs, creating a spatiotemporal wave of gene expression across the SCN that is lost in Cry1/2-deficient SCN. To interrogate the properties of CRY proteins required for circadian function, we expressed CRY in SCN of Cry-deficient mice using adeno-associated virus (AAV). Expression of CRY1::EGFP or CRY2::EGFP under a minimal Cry1 promoter was circadian and rapidly induced PER2-dependent bioluminescence rhythms in previously arrhythmic Cry1/2-deficient SCN, with periods appropriate to each isoform. CRY1::EGFP appropriately lengthened the behavioral period in Cry1-deficient mice. Thus, determination of specific circadian periods reflects properties of the respective proteins, independently of their phase of expression. Phase of CRY1::EGFP expression was critical, however, because constitutive or phase-delayed promoters failed to sustain coherent rhythms. At the circuit level, CRY1::EGFP induced the spatiotemporal wave of PER2 expression in Cry1/2-deficient SCN. This was dependent on the neuropeptide arginine vasopressin (AVP) because it was prevented by pharmacological blockade of AVP receptors. Thus, our genetic complementation assay reveals acute, protein-specific induction of cell-autonomous and network-level circadian rhythmicity in SCN never previously exposed to CRY. Specifically, Cry expression must be circadian and appropriately phased to support rhythms, and AVP receptor signaling is required to impose circuit-level circadian function.
Project description:Cryptochromes regulate the circadian clock in animals and plants. Humans and mice have two cryptochrome (Cry) genes. A previous study showed that mice lacking the Cry2 gene had reduced sensitivity to acute light induction of the circadian gene mPer1 in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) and had an intrinsic period 1 hr longer than normal. In this study, Cry1(-/-) and Cry1(-/-)Cry2(-/-) mice were generated and their circadian clocks were analyzed at behavioral and molecular levels. Behaviorally, the Cry1(-/-) mice had a circadian period 1 hr shorter than wild type and the Cry1(-/-)Cry2(-/-) mice were arrhythmic in constant darkness (DD). Biochemically, acute light induction of mPer1 mRNA in the SCN was blunted in Cry1(-/-) and abolished in Cry1(-/-)Cry2(-/-) mice. In contrast, the acute light induction of mPer2 in the SCN was intact in Cry1(-/-) and Cry1(-/-)Cry2(-/-) animals. Importantly, in double mutants, mPer1 expression was constitutively elevated and no rhythmicity was detected in either 12-hr light/12-hr dark or DD, whereas mPer2 expression appeared rhythmic in 12-hr light/12-hr dark, but nonrhythmic in DD with intermediate levels. These results demonstrate that Cry1 and Cry2 are required for the normal expression of circadian behavioral rhythms, as well as circadian rhythms of mPer1 and mPer2 in the SCN. The differential regulation of mPer1 and mPer2 by light in Cry double mutants reveals a surprising complexity in the role of cryptochromes in mammals.
Project description:The retina is both a sensory organ and a self-sustained circadian clock. Gene targeting studies have revealed that mammalian circadian clocks generate molecular circadian rhythms through coupled transcription/translation feedback loops which involve 6 core clock genes, namely Period (Per) 1 and 2, Cryptochrome (Cry) 1 and 2, Clock, and Bmal1 and that the roles of individual clock genes in rhythms generation are tissue-specific. However, the mechanisms of molecular circadian rhythms in the mammalian retina are incompletely understood and the extent to which retinal neural clocks share mechanisms with the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), the central neural clock, is unclear. In the present study, we examined the rhythmic amplitude and period of real-time bioluminescence rhythms in explants of retina from Per1-, Per2-, Per3-, Cry1-, Cry2-, and Clock-deficient mice that carried transgenic PERIOD2::LUCIFERASE (PER2::LUC) or Period1::luciferase (Per1::luc) circadian reporters. Per1-, Cry1- and Clock-deficient retinal and SCN explants showed weakened or disrupted rhythms, with stronger effects in retina compared to SCN. Per2, Per3, and Cry2 were individually dispensable for sustained rhythms in both tissues. Retinal and SCN explants from double knockouts of Cry1 and Cry2 were arrhythmic. Gene effects on period were divergent with reduction in the number of Per1 alleles shortening circadian period in retina, but lengthening it in SCN, and knockout of Per3 substantially shortening retinal clock period, but leaving SCN unaffected. Thus, the retinal neural clock has a unique pattern of clock gene dependence at the tissue level that it is similar in pattern, but more severe in degree, than the SCN neural clock, with divergent clock gene regulation of rhythmic period.
Project description:In mammals, the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) is the central pacemaker organizing circadian rhythms of behavior and physiology. At the cellular level, the mammalian clock consists of autoregulatory feedback loops involving a set of "clock genes," including the Cryptochrome (Cry) genes, Cry1 and Cry2. Experimental evidence suggests that Cry1 and Cry2 play distinct roles in circadian clock function. In mice, Cry1 is required for sustained circadian rhythms in dissociated SCN neurons or fibroblasts but not in organotypic SCN slices or at the behavioral level, whereas Cry2 is not required at any of these levels. It has been argued that coupling among SCN cellular oscillators compensates for clock gene defects to preserve oscillatory function. Here we test this hypothesis in Cry1(-/-) mice by first disrupting intercellular coupling in vivo using constant light (resulting in behavioral arrhythmicity) and then examining circadian clock gene expression in SCN slices at the single cell level. In this manner, we were able to test the role of intercellular coupling without drugs and while preserving tissue organization, avoiding the confounding influences of more invasive manipulations. Cry1(-/-) mice (as well as control Cry2(-/-) mice) bearing the PER2::LUC knock-in reporter were transferred from a standard light:dark cycle to constant bright light (~650 lux) to induce arrhythmic locomotor patterns. In SCN slices from these animals, we used bioluminescence imaging to monitor PER2::LUC expression in single cells. We show that SCN slices from rhythmic Cry1(-/-) and Cry2(-/-) mice had similarly high percentages of functional single-cell oscillators. In contrast, SCN slices from arrhythmic Cry1(-/-) mice had significantly fewer rhythmic cells than SCN slices from arrhythmic Cry2(-/-) mice. Thus, constant light in vivo disrupted intercellular SCN coupling to reveal a cell-autonomous circadian defect in Cry1(-/-) cells that is normally compensated by intercellular coupling in vivo.
Project description:The suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) is the principal circadian clock of mammals, coordinating daily rhythms of physiology and behavior. Circadian timing pivots around self-sustaining transcriptional-translational negative feedback loops (TTFLs), whereby CLOCK and BMAL1 drive the expression of the negative regulators Period and Cryptochrome (Cry). Global deletion of Cry1 and Cry2 disables the TTFL, resulting in arrhythmicity in downstream behaviors. We used this highly tractable biology to further develop genetic code expansion (GCE) as a translational switch to achieve reversible control of a biologically relevant protein, Cry1, in the SCN. This employed an orthogonal aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase/tRNACUA pair delivered to the SCN by adeno-associated virus (AAV) vectors, allowing incorporation of a noncanonical amino acid (ncAA) into AAV-encoded Cry1 protein carrying an ectopic amber stop codon. Thus, translational readthrough and Cry1 expression were conditional on the supply of ncAA via culture medium or drinking water and were restricted to neurons by synapsin-dependent expression of aminoacyl tRNA-synthetase. Activation of Cry1 translation by ncAA in neurons of arrhythmic Cry-null SCN slices immediately and dose-dependently initiated TTFL circadian rhythms, which dissipated rapidly after ncAA withdrawal. Moreover, genetic activation of the TTFL in SCN neurons rapidly and reversibly initiated circadian behavior in otherwise arrhythmic Cry-null mice, with rhythm amplitude being determined by the number of transduced SCN neurons. Thus, Cry1 does not specify the development of circadian circuitry and competence but is essential for its labile and rapidly reversible activation. This demonstrates reversible control of mammalian behavior using GCE-based translational switching, a method of potentially broad neurobiological interest.
Project description:In the mammalian brain, the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) of the anterior hypothalamus is considered to be the principal circadian pacemaker, keeping the rhythm of most physiological and behavioral processes on the basis of light/dark cycles. Because restriction of food availability to a certain time of day elicits anticipatory behavior even after ablation of the SCN, such behavior has been assumed to be under the control of another circadian oscillator. According to recent studies, however, mutant mice lacking circadian clock function exhibit normal food-anticipatory activity (FAA), a daily increase in locomotor activity preceding periodic feeding, suggesting that FAA is independent of the known circadian oscillator. To investigate the molecular basis of FAA, we examined oscillatory properties in mice lacking molecular clock components. Mice with SCN lesions or with mutant circadian periods were exposed to restricted feeding schedules at periods within and outside circadian range. Periodic feeding led to the entrainment of FAA rhythms only within a limited circadian range. Cry1(-/-) mice, which are known to be a "short-period mutant," entrained to a shorter period of feeding cycles than did Cry2(-/-) mice. This result indicated that the intrinsic periods of FAA rhythms are also affected by Cry deficiency. Bmal1(-/-) mice, deficient in another essential element of the molecular clock machinery, exhibited a pre-feeding increase of activity far from circadian range, indicating a deficit in circadian oscillation. We propose that mice possess a food-entrainable pacemaker outside the SCN in which canonical clock genes such as Cry1, Cry2 and Bmal1 play essential roles in regulating FAA in a circadian oscillatory manner.
Project description:Circadian clocks are endogenous oscillators essential for orchestrating daily rhythms in physiology, metabolism and behavior. While mouse models have been instrumental to elucidate the molecular mechanism of circadian rhythm generation, our knowledge about the molecular makeup of circadian oscillators in humans is still limited. Here, we used duplex CRISPR/Cas9 technology to generate three cellular models for studying human circadian clocks: CRY1 knockout cells, CRY2 knockout cells as well as CRY1/CRY2 double knockout cells. Duplex CRISPR/Cas9 technology efficiently removed whole exons of CRY genes by using two guide RNAs targeting exon-flanking intron regions of human osteosarcoma cells (U-2 OS). Resulting cell clones did not express CRY proteins and showed short period, low-amplitude rhythms (for CRY1 knockout), long period rhythms (for CRY2 knockout) or were arrhythmic (for CRY1/CRY2 double knockout) similar to circadian phenotypes of cells derived from classical knockout mouse models.
Project description:In mammals, the master circadian clock is located in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), where most neurons show circadian rhythms of intracellular Ca2+ levels. However, the origin of these Ca2+ rhythms remains largely unknown. In this study, we successfully monitored the intracellular circadian Ca2+ rhythms together with the circadian PER2 and firing rhythms in a single SCN slice ex vivo, which enabled us to explore the origins. The phase relation between the circadian PER2 and Ca2+ rhythms, but not between the circadian PER2 and firing rhythms, was significantly altered in Cry1/Cry2 double knockout mice, which display a loss of intercellular synchronization in the SCN. In addition, in Cry1/Cry2 double knockout mice, circadian Ca2+ rhythms were abolished in the dorsolateral SCN, but were maintained in the majority of the ventromedial SCN. These findings indicate that intracellular circadian Ca2+ rhythms are composed of an exogenous and endogenous component involving PER2 expression.
Project description:The suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) is the principal circadian pacemaker of mammals, coordinating daily rhythms of behavior and metabolism. Circadian timekeeping in SCN neurons revolves around transcriptional/posttranslational feedback loops, in which Period (Per) and Cryptochrome (Cry) genes are negatively regulated by their protein products. Recent studies have revealed, however, that these "core loops" also rely upon cytosolic and circuit-level properties for sustained oscillation. To characterize interneuronal signals responsible for robust pacemaking in SCN cells and circuits, we have developed a unique coculture technique using wild-type (WT) "graft" SCN to drive pacemaking (reported by PER2::LUCIFERASE bioluminescence) in "host" SCN deficient either in elements of neuropeptidergic signaling or in elements of the core feedback loop. We demonstrate that paracrine signaling is sufficient to restore cellular synchrony and amplitude of pacemaking in SCN circuits lacking vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP). By using grafts with mutant circadian periods we show that pacemaking in the host SCN is specified by the genotype of the graft, confirming graft-derived factors as determinants of the host rhythm. By combining pharmacological with genetic manipulations, we show that a hierarchy of neuropeptidergic signals underpins this paracrine regulation, with a preeminent role for VIP augmented by contributions from arginine vasopressin (AVP) and gastrin-releasing peptide (GRP). Finally, we show that interneuronal signaling is sufficiently powerful to maintain circadian pacemaking in arrhythmic Cry-null SCN, deficient in essential elements of the transcriptional negative feedback loops. Thus, a hierarchy of paracrine neuropeptidergic signals determines cell- and circuit-level circadian pacemaking in the SCN.
Project description:BACKGROUND: The suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) contains the master circadian clock that regulates daily rhythms of many physiological and behavioural processes in mammals. Previously we have shown that prokineticin 2 (PK2) is a clock-controlled gene that may function as a critical SCN output molecule responsible for circadian locomotor rhythms. As light is the principal zeitgeber that entrains the circadian oscillator, and PK2 expression is responsive to nocturnal light pulses, we further investigated the effects of light on the molecular rhythm of PK2 in the SCN. In particular, we examined how PK2 responds to shifts of light/dark cycles and changes in photoperiod. We also investigated which photoreceptors are responsible for the light-induced PK2 expression in the SCN. To determine whether light requires an intact functional circadian pacemaker to regulate PK2, we examined PK2 expression in cryptochrome1,2-deficient (Cry1-/-Cry2-/-) mice that lack functional circadian clock under normal light/dark cycles and constant darkness. RESULTS: Upon abrupt shifts of the light/dark cycle, PK2 expression exhibits transients in response to phase advances but rapidly entrains to phase delays. Photoperiod studies indicate that PK2 responds differentially to changes in light period. Although the phase of PK2 expression expands as the light period increases, decreasing light period does not further condense the phase of PK2 expression. Genetic knockout studies revealed that functional melanopsin and rod-cone photoreceptive systems are required for the light-inducibility of PK2. In Cry1-/-Cry2-/- mice that lack a functional circadian clock, a low amplitude PK2 rhythm is detected under light/dark conditions, but not in constant darkness. This suggests that light can directly regulate PK2 expression in the SCN. CONCLUSION: These data demonstrate that the molecular rhythm of PK2 in the SCN is regulated by both the circadian clock and light. PK2 is predominantly controlled by the endogenous circadian clock, while light plays a modulatory role. The Cry1-/-Cry2-/- mice studies reveal a light-driven PK2 rhythm, indicating that light can induce PK2 expression independent of the circadian oscillator. The light inducibility of PK2 suggests that in addition to its role in clock-driven rhythms of locomotor behaviour, PK2 may also participate in the photic entrainment of circadian locomotor rhythms.
Project description:Endogenous circadian clocks control 24-h physiological and behavioral rhythms in mammals. Here, we report a real-time in vivo fluorescence recording system that enables long-term monitoring of circadian rhythms in the brains of freely moving mice. With a designed reporter of circadian clock gene expression, we tracked robust Cry1 transcription reporter rhythms in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) of WT, Cry1-/- , and Cry2-/- mice in LD (12 h light, 12 h dark) and DD (constant darkness) conditions and verified that signals remained stable for over 6 mo. Further, we recorded Cry1 transcriptional rhythms in the subparaventricular zone (SPZ) and hippocampal CA1/2 regions of WT mice housed under LD and DD conditions. By using a Cre-loxP system, we recorded Per2 and Cry1 transcription rhythms specifically in vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) neurons of the SCN. Finally, we demonstrated the dynamics of Per2 and Cry1 transcriptional rhythms in SCN VIP neurons following an 8-h phase advance in the light/dark cycle.