Circadian regulation and function of voltage-dependent calcium channels in the suprachiasmatic nucleus.
ABSTRACT: Individual neurons within the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCNs) are capable of functioning as autonomous clocks and generating circadian rhythms in the expression of genes that form the molecular clockworks. Limited information is available on how these molecular oscillations in individual clock cells are coordinated to provide for the ensemble rhythmicity that is normally observed from the entire SCN. Because calcium influx via voltage-dependent calcium channels (VDCCs) has been implicated in the regulation of gene expression and synchronization of rhythmicity across the population of SCN clock cells, we first examined the rat SCN and an immortalized line of SCN cells (SCN2.2) for expression and circadian regulation of different VDCC alpha1 subunits. The rat SCN and SCN2.2 cells exhibited mRNA expression for all major types of VDCC alpha1 subunits. Relative levels of VDCC expression in the rat SCN and SCN2.2 cells were greatest for L-type channels, moderate for P/Q- and T-type channels, and minimal for R- and N-type channels. Interestingly, both rat SCN and SCN2.2 cells showed rhythmic expression of P/Q- and T-type channels. VDCC involvement in the regulation of molecular rhythmicity in SCN2.2 cells was then examined using the nonselective antagonist, cadmium. The oscillatory patterns of rPer2 and rBmal1 expression were abolished in cadmium-treated SCN2.2 cells without affecting cellular morphology and viability. These findings raise the possibility that the circadian regulation of VDCC activity may play an important role in maintaining rhythmic clock gene expression across an ensemble of SCN oscillators.
Project description:To screen for specific circadian outputs that may distinguish the pacemaker in the mammalian suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) from peripheral-type oscillators in which the canonical clockworks are similarly regulated in a circadian manner, the rhythmic behavior of the transcriptome in forskolin-stimulated NIH/3T3 fibroblasts was analyzed and compared to that found in the rat SCN in vivo and SCN2.2 cells in vitro. Similar to the scope of circadian gene expression in SCN2.2 cells and the rat SCN, NIH/3T3 fibroblasts exhibited circadian fluctuations in the expression of the core clock genes, Per2, Bmal1 (Mop3), and Cry1 and 323 functionally diverse transcripts (2.6%), many of which were involved in cell communication. Overlap in rhythmically-expressed transcripts among NIH/3T3 fibroblasts, SCN2.2 cells and the rat SCN was limited to these clock genes and four other genes that mediate fatty acid and lipid metabolism or function as nuclear factors. Compared to NIH/3T3 cells, circadian gene expression in SCN oscillators was more prevalent among cellular pathways mediating glucose metabolism and neurotransmission. Coupled with evidence for the rhythmic regulation of the inducible isoform of nitric oxide synthase, the enzyme responsible for the production of nitric oxide, in SCN2.2 cells and the rat SCN but not in fibroblasts, studies examining the effects of a NOS inhibitor on metabolic rhythms in co-cultures containing SCN2.2 cells and untreated NIH/3T3 cells suggest that this gaseous neurotransmitter may play a key role in SCN pacemaker function. Thus, this comparative analysis of circadian gene expression in SCN and non-SCN cells may have important implications in the selective identification of circadian signals involved in the coupling of SCN oscillators and the regulation of rhythmicity in downstream cells or tissues. Experiment Overall Design: Circadian profiling of the NIH/3T3 fibroblast transcriptome entailed the treatment of NIH/3T3 cells with a 15uM forskolin pulse, subsequent washout of the drug, and collection of total RNA immediately after washout and every 6 hours across two circadian cycles for each of three experiments. Timepoint values reflect the average of three samples from these biological replicates.
Project description:Rhythmicity of the rat suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), a site of the circadian clock, develops prenatally. A molecular clockwork responsible for the rhythmicity consists of clock genes and their negative and positive transcriptional-translational feedback loops. The aim of the present study was to discover the development of the clockwork during ontogenesis. Daily profiles of Per1, Per2, Cry1, Bmal1, and Clock mRNA in the SCN of fetuses at the embryonic day (E)19 and of newborn rats at the postnatal day (P)3 and P10 were assessed by the in situ hybridization method. In addition, daily profiles of PER1, PER2, and CRY1 proteins at E19 were assessed by immunohistochemistry. As early as at E19, all the studied clock genes were already expressed in the SCN. However, no SCN rhythm in their expression was detected; Per1, Cry1, and Clock mRNA levels were low, whereas Bmal1 mRNA levels were high and Per2 mRNA levels were medium. Moreover, no rhythms of PER1, PER2, and CRY1 were detectable, as no immunoreactive cells were present at E19. At P3, rhythms in Per1, Per2, Cry1, and Bmal1, but not in Clock mRNA, were expressed in the SCN. The rhythm matured gradually; at P10, the amplitude of Per1, Per2, and Bmal1 mRNA rhythms was more pronounced than at P3. Altogether, the data show a gradual development of both the positive and negative elements of the molecular clockwork, from no detectable rhythmicity at E19 to highly developed rhythms at P10.
Project description:Molecular mechanisms of the mammalian circadian clock have been studied primarily by genetic perturbation and behavioral analysis. Here, we used bioluminescence imaging to monitor Per2 gene expression in tissues and cells from clock mutant mice. We discovered that Per1 and Cry1 are required for sustained rhythms in peripheral tissues and cells, and in neurons dissociated from the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN). Per2 is also required for sustained rhythms, whereas Cry2 and Per3 deficiencies cause only period length defects. However, oscillator network interactions in the SCN can compensate for Per1 or Cry1 deficiency, preserving sustained rhythmicity in mutant SCN slices and behavior. Thus, behavior does not necessarily reflect cell-autonomous clock phenotypes. Our studies reveal previously unappreciated requirements for Per1, Per2, and Cry1 in sustaining cellular circadian rhythmicity and demonstrate that SCN intercellular coupling is essential not only to synchronize component cellular oscillators but also for robustness against genetic perturbations.
Project description:Mammalian circadian clocks have a hierarchical organization, governed by the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) in the hypothalamus. The brain itself contains multiple loci that maintain autonomous circadian rhythmicity, but the contribution of the non-SCN clocks to this hierarchy remains unclear. We examine circadian oscillations of clock gene expression in various brain loci and discovered that in mouse, robust, higher amplitude, relatively faster oscillations occur in the choroid plexus (CP) compared to the SCN. Our computational analysis and modeling show that the CP achieves these properties by synchronization of "twist" circadian oscillators via gap-junctional connections. Using an in vitro tissue coculture model and in vivo targeted deletion of the Bmal1 gene to silence the CP circadian clock, we demonstrate that the CP clock adjusts the SCN clock likely via circulation of cerebrospinal fluid, thus finely tuning behavioral circadian rhythms.
Project description:The suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) drives and synchronizes daily rhythms at the cellular level via transcriptional-translational feedback loops comprising clock genes such as Bmal1 and Period (Per). Glycogen synthase kinase 3 (GSK3), a serine/threonine kinase, phosphorylates at least 5 core clock proteins and shows diurnal variation in phosphorylation state (inactivation) of the GSK3? isoform. Whether phosphorylation of the other primary isoform (GSK3?) varies across the subjective day-night cycle is unknown. The purpose of this study was to determine if the endogenous rhythm of GSK3 (? and ?) phosphorylation is critical for rhythmic BMAL1 expression and normal amplitude and periodicity of the molecular clock in the SCN. Significant circadian rhythmicity of phosphorylated GSK3 (? and ?) was observed in the SCN from wild-type mice housed in constant darkness for 2 weeks. Importantly, chronic activation of both GSK3 isoforms impaired rhythmicity of the GSK3 target BMAL1. Furthermore, chronic pharmacological inhibition of GSK3 with 20 µM CHIR-99021 enhanced the amplitude and shortened the period of PER2::luciferase rhythms in organotypic SCN slice cultures. These results support the model that GSK3 activity status is regulated by the circadian clock and that GSK3 feeds back to regulate the molecular clock amplitude in the SCN.
Project description:Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients suffer sleep disorders and circadian rhythm disturbances (CRDs). The underlying mechanisms are incompletely understood, and treatments are lacking. In this study, we characterized the locomotor activity, clock gene expression, morphological degeneration and energy metabolism of suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), together with retinal light sensing, in ApoE(-/-) mice, a model for AD. Compared with the control C57BL/6J mice, ApoE(-/-) mice exhibited disordered circadian locomotor activity under dim light and constant darkness, with impaired re-entrainment to phase change schedules. Decreased retinal melanopsin expression, together with amyloidosis and tau deposition, was evident in ApoE(-/-) mice. Mitochondrial and synaptic deterioration, altered SIRT1-mediated energy metabolism and clock gene expression were also observed in ApoE(-/-) SCN. Supplementation with fat or ketone bodies but not glucose, or intraperitoneal administration of nicotinamide, restored the locomotor rhythmicity and circadian expression of SIRT1 and clock genes, as well as reducing neurodegeneration. Taken together, ApoE deficiency induced degeneration and a significant disturbance in the SCN rhythmicity. Decline of retinal light sensing and SCN structural and metabolic deteriorations represented the major pathologies accounting for the CRDs in ApoE(-/-) mice. Our curative experiments may help develop future therapies to treat the CRDs and sleep disorders in AD patients.
Project description:MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNAs that function as post-transcriptional modulators by regulating stability or translation of target mRNAs. Recent studies have implicated miRNAs in the regulation of mammalian circadian rhythms. To explore the role of miRNAs in the post-transcriptional modulation of core clock genes in the master circadian pacemaker, we examined miR-142-3p for evidence of circadian expression in the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN), regulation of its putative clock gene target Bmal1 via specific binding sites in the 3' UTR and overexpression-induced changes in the circadian rhythm of BMAL1 protein levels in SCN cells. In mice exposed to constant darkness (DD), miR-142-3p levels in the SCN were characterized by circadian rhythmicity with peak expression during early subjective day at CT 3. Mutagenesis studies indicate that two independent miRNA recognition elements located at nucleotides 1-7 and 335-357 contribute equally to miR-142-3p-induced repression of luciferase-reported Bmal1 3' UTR activity. Importantly, overexpression of miR-142-3p in immortalized SCN cells abolished circadian variation in endogenous BMAL1 protein levels in vitro. Collectively, our results suggest that miR-142-3p may play a role in the post-transcriptional modulation of Bmal1 and its oscillatory regulation in molecular feedback loops mediating SCN circadian function.
Project description:The suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) is the primary circadian pacemaker in mammals. Individual SCN neurons in dispersed culture can generate independent circadian oscillations of clock gene expression and neuronal firing. However, SCN rhythmicity depends on sufficient membrane depolarization and levels of intracellular calcium and cAMP. In the intact SCN, cellular oscillations are synchronized and reinforced by rhythmic synaptic input from other cells, resulting in a reproducible topographic pattern of distinct phases and amplitudes specified by SCN circuit organization. The SCN network synchronizes its component cellular oscillators, reinforces their oscillations, responds to light input by altering their phase distribution, increases their robustness to genetic perturbations, and enhances their precision. Thus, even though individual SCN neurons can be cell-autonomous circadian oscillators, neuronal network properties are integral to normal function of the SCN.
Project description:Research on the mechanisms underlying circadian rhythmicity and the response of brain and body clocks to environmental and physiological challenges requires assessing levels of circadian clock proteins. Too often, however, it is difficult to acquire antibodies that specifically and reliably label these proteins. Many of these antibodies also lack appropriate validation. The goal of this project was to generate and characterize antibodies against several circadian clock proteins. We examined mice and hamsters at peak and trough times of clock protein expression in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). In addition, we confirmed specificity by testing the antibodies on mice with targeted disruption of the relevant genes. Our results identify antibodies against PER1, PER2, BMAL1 and CLOCK that are useful for assessing circadian clock proteins in the SCN by immunocytochemistry.
Project description:Circadian clocks drive daily rhythms in virtually all organisms. In mammals, the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) is recognized as the master clock that synchronizes central and peripheral oscillators to evoke circadian rhythms of diverse physiology and behavior. How the timing information is transmitted from the SCN clock to generate overt circadian rhythms is essentially unknown. Prokineticin 2 (PK2), a clock-controlled gene that encodes a secreted protein, has been indicated as a candidate SCN clock output signal that regulates circadian locomotor rhythm. Here we report the generation and analysis of PK2-null mice. The reduction of locomotor rhythms in PK2-null mice was apparent in both hybrid and inbred genetic backgrounds. PK2-null mice also displayed significantly reduced rhythmicity for a variety of other physiological and behavioral parameters, including sleep-wake cycle, body temperature, circulating glucocorticoid and glucose levels, as well as the expression of peripheral clock genes. In addition, PK2-null mice showed accelerated acquisition of food anticipatory activity during a daytime food restriction. We conclude that PK2, acting as a SCN output factor, is important for the maintenance of robust circadian rhythms.