Fully mature enamel is about 98% mineral by weight. While mineral crystals appear very early during its formative phase, the newly secreted enamel is a soft gel-like matrix containing several enamel matrix proteins of which the most abundant is amelogenin (Amelx). Histological analysis of mineralized dental enamel reveals markings called cross-striations associated with daily increments of enamel formation, as evidenced by injections of labeling dyes at known time intervals. The daily incremental growth of enamel has led to the hypothesis that the circadian clock might be involved in the regulation of enamel development. To identify daily rhythms of clock genes and Amelx, we subjected murine ameloblast cells to serum synchronization to analyze the expression of the circadian transcription factors Per2 and Bmal1 by real-time PCR. Results indicate that these key genetic regulators of the circadian clock are expressed in synchronized murine ameloblast cell cultures and that their expression profile follows a circadian pattern with acrophase and bathyphase for both gene transcripts in antiphase. Immunohistological analysis confirms the protein expression of Bmal and Cry in enamel cells. Amelx expression in 2-day postnatal mouse molars dissected every 4 hours for a duration of 48 hours oscillated with an approximately 24-hour period, with a significant approximately 2-fold decrease in expression during the dark period compared to the light period. The expression of genes involved in bicarbonate production (Car2) and transport (Slc4a4), as well as in enamel matrix endocytosis (Lamp1), was greater during the dark period, indicating that ameloblasts express these proteins when Amelx expression is at the nadir. The human and mouse Amelx genes each contain a single nonconserved E-box element within 10 kb upstream of their respective transcription start sites. We also found that within 2 kb of the transcription start site of the human NFYA gene, which encodes a positive regulator of amelogenin, there is an E-box element that is conserved in rodents and other mammals. Moreover, we found that Nfya expression in serum-synchronized murine ameloblasts oscillated with a strong 24-hour rhythm. Taken together, our data support the hypothesis that the circadian clock temporally regulates enamel development.
circadian rhythms; enamel development; ameloblast cells; amelogenin
Circadian clocks sustain daily oscillations in gene expression, physiology and behavior, relying on transcription-translation feedback loops of clock genes for rhythm generation. Cultured astrocytes display daily oscillations of extracellular ATP, suggesting that ATP release is a circadian output. We hypothesized that the circadian clock modulates ATP release via mechanisms that regulate acute ATP release from glia. To test the molecular basis for circadian ATP release, we developed methods to measure in real-time ATP release and Bmal1::dLuc circadian reporter expression in cortical astrocyte cultures from mice of different genotypes. Daily rhythms of gene expression required functional Clock and Bmal1, both Per1 and Per2, and both Cry1 and Cry2 genes. Similarly, high level, circadian ATP release also required a functional clock mechanism. Whereas blocking IP3 signaling significantly disrupted ATP rhythms with no effect on Bmal1::dLuc cycling, blocking vesicular release did not alter circadian ATP release or gene expression. We conclude that astrocytes depend on circadian clock genes and IP3 signaling to express daily rhythms in ATP release.
Clock genes; gliotransmission; mouse; cortical astrocytes; bioluminescence; cell culture
Circadian rhythms are endogenous self-sustained oscillations with 24-hour periods that regulate diverse physiological and metabolic processes through complex gene regulation by “clock” transcription factors. The oral cavity is bathed by saliva, and its amount and content are modified within regular daily intervals. The clock mechanisms that control salivary production remain unclear. Our objective was to evaluate the expression and periodicity of clock genes in salivary glands. Real-time quantitative RT-PCR, in situ hybridization, and immunohistochemistry were performed to show circadian mRNA and protein expression and localization of key clock genes (Bmal1, Clock, Per1, and Per2), ion and aqua channel genes (Ae2a, Car2, and Aqp5), and salivary gland markers. Clock gene mRNAs and clock proteins were found differentially expressed in the serous acini and duct cells of all major salivary glands. The expression levels of clock genes and Aqp5 showed regular oscillatory patterns under both light/dark and complete-dark conditions. Bmla1 overexpression resulted in increased Aqp5 expression levels. Analysis of our data suggests that salivary glands have a peripheral clock mechanism that functions both in normal light/dark conditions and in the absence of light. This finding may increase our understanding of the control mechanisms of salivary content and flow.
circadian clock; saliva; transcriptional regulation; circadian rhythms; Aqp5; expression pattern
Circadian rhythms in metabolism, physiology, and behavior originate from cell-autonomous circadian clocks located in many organs and structures throughout the body and that share a common molecular mechanism based on the clock genes and their protein products. In the mammalian neural retina, despite evidence supporting the presence of several circadian clocks regulating many facets of retinal physiology and function, the exact cellular location and genetic signature of the retinal clock cells remain largely unknown. Here we examined the expression of the core circadian clock proteins CLOCK, BMAL1, NPAS2, PERIOD 1(PER1), PERIOD 2 (PER2), and CRYPTOCHROME2 (CRY2) in identified neurons of the mouse retina during daily and circadian cycles. We found concurrent clock protein expression in most retinal neurons, including cone photoreceptors, dopaminergic amacrine cells, and melanopsin-expressing intrinsically photosensitive ganglion cells. Remarkably, diurnal and circadian rhythms of expression of all clock proteins were observed in the cones whereas only CRY2 expression was found to be rhythmic in the dopaminergic amacrine cells. Only a low level of expression of the clock proteins was detected in the rods at any time of the daily or circadian cycle. Our observations provide evidence that cones and not rods are cell-autonomous circadian clocks and reveal an important disparity in the expression of the core clock components among neuronal cell types. We propose that the overall temporal architecture of the mammalian retina does not result from the synchronous activity of pervasive identical clocks but rather reflects the cellular and regional heterogeneity in clock function within retinal tissue.
Patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) have disturbances in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. These are reflected in altered circadian rhythm of circulating serum cortisol, melatonin and IL-6 levels and in chronic fatigue. We hypothesized that the molecular machinery responsible for the circadian timekeeping is perturbed in RA. The aim of this study was to investigate the expression of circadian clock in RA.
Gene expression of thirteen clock genes was analyzed in the synovial membrane of RA and control osteoarthritis (OA) patients. BMAL1 protein was detected using immunohistochemistry. Cell autonomous clock oscillation was started in RA and OA synovial fibroblasts using serum shock. The effect of pro-inflammatory stimulus on clock gene expression in synovial fibroblasts was studied using IL-6 and TNF-α.
Gene expression analysis disclosed disconcerted circadian timekeeping and immunohistochemistry revealed strong cytoplasmic localization of BMAL1 in RA patients. Perturbed circadian timekeeping is at least in part inflammation independent and cell autonomous, because RA synovial fibroblasts display altered circadian expression of several clock components, and perturbed circadian production of IL-6 and IL-1β after clock resetting. However, inflammatory stimulus disturbs the rhythm in cultured fibroblasts. Throughout the experiments ARNTL2 and NPAS2 appeared to be the most affected clock genes in human immune-inflammatory conditions.
We conclude that the molecular machinery controlling the circadian rhythm is disturbed in RA patients.
In mammals, the synchronized activity of cell autonomous clocks in the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) enables this structure to function as the master circadian clock, coordinating daily rhythms in physiology and behavior. However, the dominance of this clock has been challenged by the observations that metabolic duress can over-ride SCN controlled rhythms, and that clock genes are expressed in many brain areas, including those implicated in the regulation of appetite and feeding. The recent development of mice in which clock gene/protein activity is reported by bioluminescent constructs (luciferase or luc) now enables us to track molecular oscillations in numerous tissues ex vivo. Consequently we determined both clock activities and responsiveness to metabolic perturbations of cells and tissues within the mediobasal hypothalamus (MBH), a site pivotal for optimal internal homeostatic regulation.
Here we demonstrate endogenous circadian rhythms of PER2::LUC expression in discrete subdivisions of the arcuate (Arc) and dorsomedial nuclei (DMH). Rhythms resolved to single cells did not maintain long-term synchrony with one-another, leading to a damping of oscillations at both cell and tissue levels. Complementary electrophysiology recordings revealed rhythms in neuronal activity in the Arc and DMH. Further, PER2::LUC rhythms were detected in the ependymal layer of the third ventricle and in the median eminence/pars tuberalis (ME/PT). A high-fat diet had no effect on the molecular oscillations in the MBH, whereas food deprivation resulted in an altered phase in the ME/PT.
Our results provide the first single cell resolution of endogenous circadian rhythms in clock gene expression in any intact tissue outside the SCN, reveal the cellular basis for tissue level damping in extra-SCN oscillators and demonstrate that an oscillator in the ME/PT is responsive to changes in metabolism.
Recent demonstration of the histone acetyltransferase activity of the Clock gene greatly expanded the regulatory role of circadian clocks in gene transcription. Clock and its partner Bmal1 are responsible for the generation of circadian oscillations that are synchronized (entrained) to the external light cycle. Entraining light often produces long-lasting changes in the endogenous period called aftereffects. Aftereffects are light-dependent alterations in the speed of free-running rhythms that persist for several weeks upon termination of light exposure. How light causes such long-lasting changes is unknown. However, the persistent nature of circadian aftereffects in conjunction with the long-term effects of epigenetic modifications on development and various aspects of brain physiology prompted us to hypothesize that the histone acetyltransferase CLOCK was required for circadian aftereffects. The authors exposed Clock knockout mice to 25-hour light cycles and report that these mice retain the ability to display circadian aftereffects, indicating that Clock is dispensable for this form of circadian plasticity.
PMID: 22215614 CAMSID: cams3042
aftereffects; entrainment; epigenetic; plasticity; mouse
The master clock within the hypothalamic suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) synchronizing clocks in peripheral tissues is entrained by the environmental condition, such as the light-dark (LD) cycle. The mechanisms of circadian clockwork are similar in both SCN and peripheral tissues. The aim of the present work was to observe the profiles of clock genes expression in mouse central and peripheral tissues within postnatal day 5 (P5). The daily expression of four clock genes mRNA (Bmal1, Per2, Cry1 and Rev-erb alpha) in mouse SCN and heart was measured at P1, P3 and P5 by real-time PCR.
All the studied mice clock genes began to express in a circadian rhythms manner in heart and SCN at P3 and P5 respectively. Interestingly, the daily rhythmic phase of some clock genes shifted during the postnatal days. Moreover, the expressions of clock genes in heart were not synchronized with those in SCN until at P5.
The data showed the gradual development of clock genes in SCN and a peripheral tissue, and suggested that development of clock genes differed between in the SCN and the heart. Judging from the mRNA expression, it was possible that the central clock synchronized the peripheral clock as early as P5.
Circadian rhythms in physiology and behavior are known to be influenced by the estrous cycle in female rodents. The clock genes responsible for the generation of circadian oscillations are widely expressed both within the central nervous system and peripheral tissues, including those that comprise the reproductive system. To address whether the estrous cycle affects rhythms of clock gene expression in peripheral tissues, we first examined rhythms of clock gene expression (Per1, Per2, Bmal1) in reproductive (uterus, ovary) and non-reproductive (liver) tissues of cycling rats using quantitative real-time PCR (in vivo) and luminescent recording methods to measure circadian rhythms of PER2 expression in tissue explant cultures from cycling PER2::LUCIFERASE (PER2::LUC) knockin mice (ex vivo). We found significant estrous variations of clock gene expression in all three tissues in vivo, and in the uterus ex vivo. We also found that exogenous application of estrogen and progesterone altered rhythms of PER2::LUC expression in the uterus. In addition, we measured the effects of ovarian steroids on clock gene expression in a human breast cancer cell line (MCF-7 cells) as a model for endocrine cells that contain both the steroid hormone receptors and clock genes. We found that progesterone, but not estrogen, acutely up-regulated Per1, Per2, and Bmal1 expression in MCF-7 cells. Together, our findings demonstrate that the timing of the circadian clock in reproductive tissues is influenced by the estrous cycle and suggest that fluctuating steroid hormone levels may be responsible, in part, through direct effects on the timing of clock gene expression.
Estrogen; Progesterone; Uterus; PER2::LUC; MCF-7 cell line; Circadian Rhythm
Circadian clocks in vertebrates are thought to be composed of transcriptional-translational feedback loops involving a highly conversed set of “clock genes”: namely, period (Per1–3) and cryptochrome (Cry1–2), which encode negative transcriptional regulators; and Bmal1, Clock, and Npas2, which encode positive regulators. Aanat, which encodes arylalkylamine N-acetyltransferase (AANAT), the key regulatory enzyme that drives the circadian rhythm of melatonin synthesis, contains a circadian E-box element (CACGTG) in its proximal promoter that is potentially capable of binding CLOCK: BMAL1 and NPAS2: BMAL1 heterodimers. The present study was conducted to investigate whether CLOCK and/or NPAS2 regulates Aanat expression in photoreceptor cells. Npas2 and Clock are both expressed in photoreceptor cells in vivo and in vitro. To assess the roles of CLOCK and NPAS2 in Aanat expression, gene specific microRNA (miR) vectors were used to knock down expression of these clock genes in photoreceptor-enriched cell cultures. The knockdown of CLOCK protein significantly reduced the circadian expression of Npas2, Per2, and Aanat transcripts but had no effect on the circadian rhythm of Bmal1 transcript level. The knockdown of NPAS2 significantly damped the circadian rhythm of Aanat mRNAs but had no effect on circadian expression of any of clock genes examined, except Npas2 itself. Chromatin immunoprecipitation studies indicated that both CLOCK and NPAS2 bound to the Aanat promoter in situ. Thus, CLOCK and NPAS2 have overlapping roles in the clock output pathway that regulates the rhythmic expression of Aanat in photoreceptors. However, CLOCK plays the predominant role in the chicken photoreceptor circadian clockwork mechanism, including the regulation of NPAS2 expression.
circadian clock genes; circadian rhythms; retina; melatonin; transcription factors; RNA interference
In animals, circadian oscillators are based on a transcription-translation circuit that revolves around the transcription factors CLOCK and BMAL1. We found that the JumonjiC (JmjC) and ARID domain-containing histone lysine demethylase 1a (JARID1a) formed a complex with CLOCK-BMAL1, which was recruited to the Per2 promoter. JARID1a increased histone acetylation by inhibiting histone deacetylase 1 function and enhanced transcription by CLOCK-BMAL1 in a demethylase-independent manner. Depletion of JARID1a in mammalian cells reduced Per promoter histone acetylation, dampened expression of canonical circadian genes, and shortened the period of circadian rhythms. Drosophila lines with reduced expression of the Jarid1a homolog, lid, had lowered Per expression and similarly altered circadian rhythms. JARID1a thus has a nonredundant role in circadian oscillator function.
The suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) regulates a wide range of daily behaviors and has been described as the master circadian pacemaker. The role of daily rhythmicity in other tissues, however, is unknown. We hypothesized that circadian changes in olfactory discrimination depend on a genetic circadian oscillator outside the SCN. We developed an automated assay to monitor olfactory discrimination in individual mice throughout the day. We found olfactory sensitivity increased approximately 6-fold from a minimum during the day to a peak in the early night. This circadian rhythm was maintained in SCN-lesioned mice and mice deficient for the Npas2 gene but was lost in mice lacking Bmal1 or both Per1 and Per2 genes. We conclude that daily rhythms in olfactory sensitivity depend on the expression of canonical clock genes. Olfaction is, thus, the first circadian behavior that is not based on locomotor activity and does not require the SCN.
olfaction; circadian rhythms; Bmal1 gene; oscillator; Period2 gene
A central circadian (~24 hr) clock coordinating daily rhythms in physiology and behavior resides in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) located in the anterior hypothalamus. The clock is directly synchronized by light via the retina and optic nerve. Circadian oscillations are generated by interacting negative feedback loops of a number of so called "clock genes" and their protein products, including the Period (Per) genes. The core clock is also dependent on membrane depolarization, calcium and cAMP 1. The SCN shows daily oscillations in clock gene expression, metabolic activity and spontaneous electrical activity. Remarkably, this endogenous cyclic activity persists in adult tissue slices of the SCN 2-4. In this way, the biological clock can easily be studied in vitro, allowing molecular, electrophysiological and metabolic investigations of the pacemaker function.
The SCN is a small, well-defined bilateral structure located right above the optic chiasm 5. In the rat it contains ~8.000 neurons in each nucleus and has dimensions of approximately 947 μm (length, rostrocaudal axis) x 424 μm (width) x 390 μm (height) 6. To dissect out the SCN it is necessary to cut a brain slice at the specific level of the brain where the SCN can be identified. Here, we describe the dissecting and slicing procedure of the SCN, which is similar for mouse and rat brains. Further, we show how to culture the dissected tissue organotypically on a membrane 7, a technique developed for SCN tissue culture by Yamazaki et al.8. Finally, we demonstrate how transgenic tissue can be used for measuring expression of clock genes/proteins using dynamic luciferase reporter technology, a method that originally was used for circadian measurements by Geusz et al.9. We here use SCN tissues from the transgenic knock-in PERIOD2::LUCIFERASE mice produced by Yoo et al.10. The mice contain a fusion protein of PERIOD (PER) 2 and the firefly enzyme LUCIFERASE. When PER2 is translated in the presence of the substrate for luciferase, i.e. luciferin, the PER2 expression can be monitored as bioluminescence when luciferase catalyzes the oxidation of luciferin. The number of emitted photons positively correlates to the amount of produced PER2 protein, and the bioluminescence rhythms match the PER2 protein rhythm in vivo10. In this way the cyclic variation in PER2 expression can be continuously monitored real time during many days. The protocol we follow for tissue culturing and real-time bioluminescence recording has been thoroughly described by Yamazaki and Takahashi 11.
In mammals, cellular circadian rhythms are generated by a
transcriptional-translational autoregulatory network that consists of clock
genes that encode transcriptional regulators. Of these clock genes,
Period1 (Per1) and
Period2 (Per2) are essential for
sustainable circadian rhythmicity and photic entrainment. Intriguingly,
Per1 and Per2 mRNAs exhibit circadian
oscillations with a 4-hour phase difference, but they are similarly
transactivated by CLOCK-BMAL1. In this study, we investigated the mechanism
underlying the phase difference between Per1 and
Per2 through a combination of mathematical simulations and
molecular experiments. Mathematical analyses of a model for the mammalian
circadian oscillator demonstrated that the slow synthesis and fast degradation
of mRNA tend to advance the oscillation phase of mRNA expression. However, the
phase difference between Per1 and Per2 was not
reproduced by the model, which implemented a 1.1-fold difference in degradation
rates and a 3-fold difference in CLOCK-BMAL1 mediated inductions of
Per1 and Per2 as estimated in cultured
mammalian cells. Thus, we hypothesized the existence of a novel transcriptional
activation of Per2 by PER1/2 such that the
Per2 oscillation phase was delayed. Indeed, only the
Per2 promoter, but not Per1, was strongly
induced by both PER1 and PER2 in the presence of CLOCK-BMAL1 in a luciferase
reporter assay. Moreover, a 3-hour advance was observed in the transcriptional
oscillation of the delta-Per2 reporter gene lacking
cis-elements required for the induction by PER1/2. These results indicate that
the Per2 positive feedback regulation is a significant factor
responsible for generating the phase difference between Per1
and Per2 gene expression.
Recent studies have shown that circadian clock genes are expressed in various peripheral tissues, raising the possibility that multiple clocks regulate circadian physiology. To study clock gene expression in the rhesus macaque pituitary gland we used gene microarray data and found that the pituitary glands of young and old adult males express several components of the circadian clock (Per1, Per2, Cry1, Bmal1, Clock, Rev-erbα and Csnk1ε). Semi-quantitative reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (sqRT-PCR) confirmed the presence of these core-clock genes and detected significant age-related differences in expression of Per2. sqRT-PCR also showed differential expression of core-clock genes at two opposing time-points over the 24 hour day, with greater expression of Per2 and Bmal1 (P<0.05) at 1300 h as compared to 0100 h. Immunohistochemistry revealed rhythmic expression of REV-ERBα in the pituitary glands of female macaques. These data provide evidence that the rhesus macaque pituitary gland expresses core-clock genes and their associated protein products in a 24-hour rhythmic pattern, and that their expression is moderately impacted by aging processes.
circadian; age; pituitary; rhesus macaque
Circadian oscillation of clock-controlled gene expression is mainly regulated at the transcriptional level. Heterodimers of CLOCK and BMAL1 act as activators of target gene transcription; however, interactions of PER and CRY proteins with the heterodimer abolish its transcriptional activation capacity. PER and CRY are therefore referred to as negative regulators of the circadian clock. To further elucidate the mechanism how positive and negative components of the clock interplay, we characterized the interactions of PER2, CRY1 and CRY2 with BMAL1 and CLOCK using a mammalian two-hybrid system and co-immunoprecipitation assays.
Both PER2 and the CRY proteins were found to interact with BMAL1 whereas only PER2 interacts with CLOCK. CRY proteins seem to have a higher affinity to BMAL1 than PER2. Moreover, we provide evidence that PER2, CRY1 and CRY2 bind to different domains in the BMAL1 protein.
The regulators of clock-controlled transcription PER2, CRY1 and CRY2 differ in their capacity to interact with each single component of the BMAL1-CLOCK heterodimer and, in the case of BMAL1, also in their interaction sites. Our data supports the hypothesis that CRY proteins, especially CRY1, are stronger repressors than PER proteins.
The circadian changes in morphology of the first visual neuropil or lamina of Diptera represent an example of the neuronal plasticity controlled by the circadian clock (circadian plasticity). It is observed in terminals of the compound eye photoreceptor cells, the peripheral oscillators expressing the clock genes. However, it has been found also in their postsynaptic partners, the L1 and L2 monopolar cells, in which the activity of the clock genes have not yet been detected. The circadian input that the L1 and L2 receive seems to originate not only from the retina photoreceptors and from the circadian pacemaker neurons located in the brain, but also from the glial cells that express the clock genes and thus contain circadian oscillators. This paper summarizes the morphological and biochemical rhythms in glia of the optic lobe, shows how they contribute to circadian plasticity, and discusses how glial clocks may modulate circadian rhythms in the lamina.
circadian plasticity; glia; visual system; Drosophila; Musca
The circadian clock is encoded by a transcription-translation feedback loop that synchronizes behavior and metabolism with the light-dark cycle. Here we report that both the rate-limiting enzyme in mammalian NAD+ biosynthesis, nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase (NAMPT), and levels of NAD+, display circadian oscillations which are regulated by the core clock machinery in mice. Inhibition of NAMPT promotes oscillation of the clock gene Per2 by releasing CLOCK:BMAL1 from suppression by SIRT1. In turn, the circadian transcription factor CLOCK binds to and up-regulates Nampt, thus completing a feedback loop involving NAMPT/NAD+ and SIRT1/CLOCK:BMAL1.
Circadian clocks have evolved as internal time keeping mechanisms that allow anticipation of daily environmental changes and organization of a daily program of physiological and behavioral rhythms. To better examine the mechanisms underlying circadian clocks in animals and to ask whether clock gene expression and function during development affected subsequent daily time keeping in the adult, we used the genetic tools available in Drosophila to conditionally manipulate the function of the CYCLE component of the positive regulator CLOCK/CYCLE (CLK/CYC) or its negative feedback inhibitor PERIOD (PER). Differential manipulation of clock function during development and in adulthood indicated that there is no developmental requirement for either a running clock mechanism or expression of per. However, conditional suppression of CLK/CYC activity either via per over-expression or cyc depletion during metamorphosis resulted in persistent arrhythmic behavior in the adult. Two distinct mechanisms were identified that may contribute to this developmental function of CLK/CYC and both involve the ventral lateral clock neurons (LNvs) that are crucial to circadian control of locomotor behavior: (1) selective depletion of cyc expression in the LNvs resulted in abnormal peptidergic small-LNv dorsal projections, and (2) PER expression rhythms in the adult LNvs appeared to be affected by developmental inhibition of CLK/CYC activity. Given the conservation of clock genes and circuits among animals, this study provides a rationale for investigating a possible similar developmental role of the homologous mammalian CLOCK/BMAL1 complex.
The fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster is an excellent model system for studying the internal circadian clocks that animals use for daily time keeping. Since clocks exist and function in animals not only in adults, but also during prior development, the question arises if and how adult circadian rhythms depend on developmental clock circuits and components. To address this question we created transgenic flies in which the essential clock components CLOCK/CYCLE (CLK/CYC) and PERIOD (PER) can be manipulated via environmental temperature. Stopping the clock during development by depleting the negative regulator PER did not prevent restoration of circadian time keeping in the adult. However, a developmental arrest of the clock due to either depletion of the positive regulator CYC or overproduction of PER resulted in a persistent loss of clock-controlled behavior function in adults. Taken together, these observations indicate that adult clock function developmentally requires activity of the CLK/CYC transcription complex rather than a ticking clock. Based on the behavioral, molecular, and anatomical consequences of inhibiting CLK/CYC in circadian pacemaker neurons, we propose that the developmental requirement maps to these cells. It will be interesting to determine whether there is a comparable developmental requirement for the equivalent clock genes in humans.
The aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) is a period-aryl hydrocarbon receptor nuclear transporter-simple minded domain transcription factor that shares structural similarity with circadian clock genes and readily interacts with components of the molecular clock. Activation of AhR by 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) alters behavioral circadian rhythms and represses the Period1 (Per1) gene in murine hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells. Per1 expression is driven by circadian locomotor activity cycles kaput-brain muscle ARNT-like (CLOCK-BMAL1)–dependent activation of Eboxes in the Per1 promoter. We hypothesized that the effects of AhR activation on the circadian clock are mediated by disruption of CLOCK-BMAL1 function and subsequent Per1 gene suppression. Effects of AhR activation on rhythmic Per1 transcripts were examined in livers of mice after treatment with the AhR agonist, TCDD; the molecular mechanisms of Per1 repression by AhR were determined in hepatoma cells using TCDD and β-napthoflavone as AhR activators. This study reports, for the first time, that AhR activation by TCDD alters the Per1 rhythm in the mouse liver and that Per1 gene suppression depends upon the presence of AhR. Furthermore, AhR interaction with BMAL1 attenuates CLOCK-BMAL1 activity and decreases CLOCK binding at Ebox1 and Ebox3 in the Per1 promoter. Taken together, these data suggest that AhR activation represses Per1 through disrupting CLOCK-BMAL1 activity, producing dysregulation of rhythmic Per1 gene expression. These data define alteration of the Per1 rhythm as novel signaling events downstream of AhR activation. Downregulation of Per1 could contribute to metabolic disease, cancer, and other detrimental effects resulting from exposure to certain environmental pollutants.
Per1; gene regulation; Ebox; liver; AhR activation; BMAL1; circadian rhythm
Circadian rhythms are regulated at the cellular level by transcriptional feedback loops leading to oscillations in expression of key proteins including CLOCK, BMAL1, PERIOD (PER), and CRYPTOCHROME (CRY). The CLOCK and BMAL1 proteins are members of the bHLH class of transcription factors and form a heterodimer that regulates the expression of the PER and CRY genes. The nuclear receptor REV-ERBα plays a key role in regulation of oscillations in BMAL1 expression by directly binding to the BMAL1 promoter and suppressing its expression at certain times of day when REV-ERBα expression levels are elevated. We recently demonstrated that REV-ERBα also regulates the expression of NPAS2, a heterodimer partner of BMAL1. Here, we show that REV-ERBα also regulates the expression another heterodimer partner of BMAL1, CLOCK. We identified a REV-ERBα binding site within the 1st intron of the CLOCK gene using a chromatin immunoprecipitation – microarray screen. Suppression of REV-ERBα expression resulted in elevated CLOCK mRNA expression consistent with REV-ERBα's role as a transcriptional repressor. A REV-ERB response element (RevRE) was identified within this region of the CLOCK gene and was conserved between humans and mice. Additionally, the CLOCK RevRE conferred REV-ERB responsiveness to a heterologous reporter gene. Our data suggests that REV-ERBα plays a dual role in regulation of the activity of the BMAL1/CLOCK heterodimer by regulation of expression of both the BMAL1 and CLOCK genes.
A broad variety of organisms display circadian rhythms (i.e., oscillations with 24-hr periodicities) in many aspects of their behavior, physiology and metabolism. These rhythms are under genetic control and are generated endogenously at the cellular level. In mammals, the core molecular mechanism of the oscillator consists of two transcriptional activators, CLOCK and BMAL1, and their transcriptional targets, CRYPTOCHROMES (CRYS) and PERIODS (PERS). The CRY and PER proteins function as negative regulators of CLOCK/BMAL1 activity, thus forming the major circadian autoregulatory feedback loop. It is believed that the circadian clock system regulates daily variations in output physiology and metabolism through periodic activation/repression of the set of clock-controlled genes that are involved in various metabolic pathways. Importantly, circadian-controlled pathways include those that determine in vivo responses to genotoxic stress. By using circadian mutant mice deficient in different components of the molecular clock system, we have established genetic models that correlate with the two opposite extremes of circadian cycle as reflected by the activity of the CLOCK/BMAL1 transactivation complex. Comparison of the in vivo responses of these mutants to the chemotherapeutic drug, cyclophosphamide (CY), has established a direct correlation between drug toxicity and the functional status of the CLOCK/BMAL1 transcriptional complex. We have also demonstrated that CLOCK/BMAL1 modulates sensitivity to drug-induced toxicity by controlling B cell responses to active CY metabolites. These results suggest that the sensitivity of cells to genotoxic stress induced by anticancer therapy may be modulated by CLOCK/BMAL1 transcriptional activity. Further elucidation of the molecular mechanisms of circadian control as well as identification of specific pharmacological modulators of CLOCK/BMAL1 activity are likely to lead to the development of new anti-cancer treatment schedules with increased therapeutic index and reduced morbidity.
Circadian; CLOCK; BMAL1; transcription; anticancer therapy
A long-term high-fat diet may result in a fatty liver. However, whether or not high-fat diets affect the hepatic circadian clock is controversial. The objective of this study is to investigate the effects of timed high-fat diet on the hepatic circadian clock and clock-controlled peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) α-mediated lipogenic gene expressions. Mice were orally administered high-fat milk in the evening for 4 weeks. The results showed that some hepatic clock genes, such as Clock, brain-muscle-Arnt-like 1 (Bmal1), Period 2 (Per2), and Cryptochrome 2 (Cry2) exhibited obvious changes in rhythms and/or amplitudes. Alterations in the expression of clock genes, in turn, further altered the circadian rhythm of PPARα expression. Among the PPARα target genes, cholesterol 7α-hydroxylase (CYP7A1), 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A reductase, low-density lipoprotein receptor, lipoprotein lipase, and diacylglycerol acyltransferase (DGAT) showed marked changes in rhythms and/or amplitudes. In particular, significant changes in the expressions of DGAT and CYP7A1 were observed. The effects of a high-fat diet on the expression of lipogenic genes in the liver were accompanied by increased hepatic cholesterol and triglyceride levels. These results suggest that timed high-fat diets at night could change the hepatic circadian expressions of clock genes Clock, Bmal1, Per2, and Cry2 and subsequently alter the circadian expression of PPARα-mediated lipogenic genes, resulting in hepatic lipid accumulation.
High-fat diet; Clock genes; Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor α; Lipid metabolism; Mice
Cryptochromes (CRYs) are a class of flavoprotein blue-light signaling receptors found in plants and animals, and they control plant development and the entrainment of circadian rhythms. They also act as integral parts of the central circadian oscillator in humans and other animals. In mammals, the CLOCK-BMAL1 heterodimer activates transcription of the Per and Cry genes as well as clock-regulated genes. The PER2 proteins interact with CRY and CKIε, and the resulting ternary complexes translocate into the nucleus, where they negatively regulate the transcription of Per and Cry core clock genes and other clock-regulated output genes. Recent studies have indicated that the extended C-termini of the mammalian CRYs, as compared to photolyase proteins, interact with PER proteins.
We identified a region on mCRY2 (between residues 493 and 512) responsible for direct physical interaction with mPER2 by mammalian two-hybrid and co-immunoprecipitation assays. Moreover, using oligonucleotide-based degenerate PCR, we discovered that mutation of Arg-501 and Lys-503 of mCRY2 within this C-terminal region totally abolishes interaction with PER2.
Our results identify mCRY2 amino acid residues that interact with the mPER2 binding region and suggest the potential for rational drug design to inhibit CRYs for specific therapeutic approaches.
The circadian rhythm of about 24 hours is a fundamental physiological function observed in almost all organisms from prokaryotes to humans. Identification of clock genes has allowed us to study the molecular bases for circadian behaviors and temporal physiological processes such as hormonal secretion, and has prompted the idea that molecular clocks reside not only in a central pacemaker, the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) of hypothalamus in mammals, but also in peripheral tissues, even in immortalized cells. Furthermore, previous molecular dissection revealed that the mechanism of circadian oscillation at a molecular level is based on transcriptional regulation of clock and clock-controlled genes.
We systematically analyzed the mRNA expression of clock and clock-controlled genes in mouse peripheral tissues. Eight genes (mBmal1, mNpas2, mRev-erbα, mDbp, mRev-erbβ, mPer3, mPer1 and mPer2; given in the temporal order of the rhythm peak) showed robust circadian expressions of mRNAs in all tissues except testis, suggesting that these genes are core molecules of the molecular biological clock. The bioinformatics analysis revealed that these genes have one or a combination of 3 transcriptional elements (RORE, DBPE, and E-box), which are conserved among human, mouse, and rat genome sequences, and indicated that these 3 elements may be responsible for the biological timing of expression of canonical clock genes.
The observation of oscillatory profiles of canonical clock genes is not only useful for physiological and pathological examination of the circadian clock in various organs but also important for systematic understanding of transcriptional regulation on a genome-wide basis. Our finding of the oscillatory expression of canonical clock genes with a temporal order provides us an interesting hypothesis, that cyclic timing of all clock and clock-controlled genes may be dependent on several transcriptional elements including 3 known elements, E-box, RORE, and DBPE.