A significant portion of the transcriptome in mammals, including the PAR bZIP transcription factors DBP, HLF and TEF, is under circadian clock control. In this issue, Gachon and colleagues show that disruption of these three genes in mice alters the gene expression patterns of many proteins that are involved in drug metabolism and responses to xenobiotic agents in liver and kidney. Triple mutant mice have severe physiological deficits, including increased hypersensitivity to xenobiotic agents and premature aging, highlighting the profound effect the circadian clock has on this important response system.
The circadian system orchestrates the temporal organization of many aspects of physiology, including metabolism, in synchrony with the 24 hr rotation of the Earth. Like the metabolic system, the circadian system is a complex feedback network that involves interactions between the central nervous system and peripheral tissues. Emerging evidence suggests that circadian regulation is intimately linked to metabolic homeostasis, and that dysregulation of circadian rhythms can contribute to disease. Conversely, metabolic signals also feed back into the circadian system, modulating circadian gene expression and behavior. Here, we review the relationship between the circadian and metabolic systems, and the implications for cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes.
Period determination in the mammalian circadian clock involves the turnover rate of the repressors, CRY and PER. Here we show that CRY ubiquitination engages two competing E3 ligase complexes that either lengthen or shorten circadian period in mice. Cloning of a short-period circadian mutant, Past-time, revealed a glycine to glutamate (G149E) missense mutation in Fbxl21, an F-box protein gene that is a paralog of Fbxl3 that targets the CRY proteins for degradation. While loss-of-function of FBXL3 leads to period lengthening, mutation of Fbxl21 causes period shortening. FBXL21 forms an SCF E3 ligase complex that slowly degrades CRY in the cytoplasm, but antagonizes the stronger E3 ligase activity of FBXL3 in the nucleus. FBXL21 plays a dual role: protecting CRY from FBXL3 degradation in the nucleus and promoting CRY degradation within the cytoplasm. Thus, the balance and cellular compartmentalization of competing E3 ligases for CRY determine circadian period of the clock in mammals.
The circadian system of mammals is composed of a hierarchy of oscillators that function at the cellular, tissue and systems levels. A common molecular mechanism underlies the cell autonomous circadian oscillator throughout the body, yet this clock system is adapted to different functional contexts. In the central suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) of the hypothalamus, a coupled population of neuronal circadian oscillators acts as a master pacemaker for the organism to drive rhythms in activity and rest, feeding, body temperature and hormones. Coupling within the SCN network confers robustness to the SCN pacemaker which in turn provides stability to the overall temporal architecture of the organism. Throughout the majority of the cells in the body, cell autonomous circadian clocks are intimately enmeshed within metabolic pathways. Thus, an emerging view for the adaptive significance of circadian clocks is their fundamental role in orchestrating metabolism.
Clock Genes; Suprachiasmatic Nucleus; Oscillator Coupling; Metabolism; Temperature
Many aspects of metabolism exhibit daily rhythmicity under the control of endogenous circadian clocks, and disruptions in circadian timing result in dysfunctions associated with the metabolic syndrome. Nocturnin (Noc) is a robustly rhythmic gene that encodes a deadenylase thought to be involved in the removal of polyA tails from mRNAs. Mice lacking the Noc gene display resistance to diet-induced obesity and hepatic steatosis, due in part to reduced lipid trafficking in the small intestine. In addition, Noc appears to play important roles in other tissues and has been implicated in lipid metabolism, adipogenesis, glucose homeostasis, inflammation and osteogenesis. Therefore, Noc is a potential key post-transcriptional mediator in the circadian control of many metabolic processes.
Nocturnin; Ccrn4l; Circadian; Deadenylase; Post-transcriptional; Metabolic syndrome
The circadian clock in mammals is driven by an autoregulatory transcriptional feedback mechanism that takes about 24 hours to complete. A key component of this mechanism is a heterodimeric transcriptional activator consisting of two bHLH-PAS domain protein subunits, CLOCK and BMAL1. Here we report the crystal structure of a complex containing the mouse CLOCK:BMAL1 bHLH-PAS domains at 2.3Å resolution. The structure reveals an unusual asymmetric heterodimer with the three domains in each of the two subunits, bHLH, PAS-A and PAS-B tightly intertwined and involved in dimerization interactions, resulting in three distinct protein interfaces. Mutations that perturb the observed heterodimer interfaces affect the stability and activity of the CLOCK:BMAL1 complex as well as the periodicity of the circadian oscillator. The structure of the CLOCK:BMAL1 complex is a starting point for understanding at an atomic level the mechanism driving the mammalian circadian clock.
Nuclear receptors (NRs) control cell fate and regulate tissue function. Some of the NRs are expressed in a circadian and tissue specific manner. Clock genes are part of the circadian network and fine tune gene expression in adipose and skeletal tissues. Pparg, a master transcription factor that determines adipogenesis exhibits a circadian expression pattern in white adipose tissue and liver. In this paper we found that message and protein for a peripheral clock gene, nocturnin, is markedly up-regulated with Pparg activation in adipocytes and bone marrow stromal cells. Nocturnin is also expressed in relatively high amounts in other tissues which may have physiologic relevance for bone, including the brain and hypothalamus. Importantly, we found polymorphic strain differences in bone marrow nocturnin expression that relate to phenotypic determinants of skeletal acquisition. Defining the function of nocturnin in peripheral tissues should provide new insights into lineage allocation and the intimate relationship between nuclear receptors and physiologic timekeeping.
The role of circadian proteins in regulating whole body metabolism and bone turnover has been studied in detail and has led to the discovery of an elemental system for timekeeping involving the core genes Clock, Bmal1, Per, and Cry. Nocturnin, a peripheral circadian-regulated gene has been shown to play a very important role in regulating adipogenesis by deadenylation of key mRNAs and intra-cytoplasmic transport of PPARγ. The role that it plays in osteogenesis has previously not been studied in detail. In this report we examined in vitro and in vivo osteogenesis in the presence and absence of Nocturnin and show that loss of Nocturnin enhances bone formation and can rescue Rosiglitazone induced bone loss in mice. The circadian rhythm of Nocturnin is likely to be an essential element of marrow stromal cell fate.
Nocturnin; rosiglitazone; PPARγ
Efficient metabolic function in mammals depends on the circadian clock, which drives temporal regulation of metabolic processes. Nocturnin is a clock-regulated deadenylase that controls its target mRNA expression post-transcriptionally through poly(A) tail removal. Mice lacking Nocturnin (Noc−/− mice) are resistant to diet-induced obesity and hepatic steatosis, yet are not hyperactive or hypophagic.
Here we show that Nocturnin is expressed rhythmically in the small intestine, is induced by olive oil gavage and that the Noc−/− mice have reduced chylomicron transit into the plasma following the ingestion of dietary lipids. Genes involved in triglyceride synthesis, storage and chylomicron formation have altered expression and large cytoplasmic lipid droplets accumulate in the apical domains of the Noc−/− enterocytes. The physiological significance of this deficit in absorption is clear since maintenance of Noc−/− mice on diets that challenge the chylomicron synthesis pathway result in significant reductions in body weight, while diets that bypass this pathway do not.
Therefore we propose that Nocturnin plays an important role in the trafficking of dietary lipid in the intestinal enterocyes by optimizing efficient absorption of lipids.
The relationship between circadian clocks and metabolism is intimate and complex and a number of recent studies have begun to reveal previously unknown effects of food and its temporal availability on the clock and the rhythmic transcriptome of peripheral tissues. Nocturnin, a circadian deadenylase, is expressed rhythmically in a wide variety of tissues, but we report here that Nocturnin expression is arrhythmic in epididymal white adipose tissue (eWAT) of mice housed in 12∶12 LD with ad libitum access to food. However, Nocturnin expression becomes rhythmic in eWAT of mice placed on restricted feeding. We show here that Nocturnin's rhythmic expression pattern is not dependent upon feeding, nor is it acutely induced by feeding in the liver or eWAT of ad libitum fed mice. However, Nocturnin is acutely induced by the absence of the expected meal in eWAT of restricted fed mice. A rise in cAMP levels also induces Nocturnin expression, suggesting that Nocturnin's induction in eWAT by fasting is likely mediated through the same pathways that activate lipolysis. Therefore, this suggests that Nocturnin plays a role in linking nutrient sensing by the circadian clock to lipid mobilization in the adipocytes.
Although an endogenous circadian clock located in the retinal photoreceptor layer governs various physiological events including melatonin rhythms in Xenopus laevis, it remains unknown which of the photoreceptors, rod and/or cone, is responsible for the circadian regulation of melatonin release.
We selectively disrupted circadian clock function in either the rod or cone photoreceptor cells by generating transgenic Xenopus tadpoles expressing a dominant-negative CLOCK (XCLΔQ) under the control of a rod or cone-specific promoter. Eyecup culture and continuous melatonin measurement revealed that circadian rhythms of melatonin release were abolished in a majority of the rod-specific XCLΔQ transgenic tadpoles, although the percentage of arrhythmia was lower than that of transgenic tadpole eyes expressing XCLΔQ in both rods and cones. In contrast, whereas a higher percentage of arrhythmia was observed in the eyes of the cone-specific XCLΔQ transgenic tadpoles compare to wild-type counterparts, the rate was significantly lower than in rod-specific transgenics. The levels of the transgene expression were comparable between these two different types of transgenics. In addition, the average overall melatonin levels were not changed in the arrhythmic eyes, suggesting that CLOCK does not affect absolute levels of melatonin, only its temporal expression pattern.
These results suggest that although the Xenopus retina is made up of approximately equal numbers of rods and cones, the circadian clocks in the rod cells play a dominant role in driving circadian melatonin rhythmicity in the Xenopus retina, although some contribution of the clock in cone cells cannot be excluded.
Nocturnin is a circadian clock-regulated deadenylase thought to control mRNA expression post-transcriptionally through poly(A) tail removal. The expression of Nocturnin is robustly rhythmic in liver at both the mRNA and protein levels, and mice lacking Nocturnin are resistant to diet-induced obesity and hepatic steatosis. Here we report that Nocturnin expression is regulated by microRNA-122 (miR-122), a liver specific miRNA. We found that the 3′-untranslated region (3′-UTR) of Nocturnin mRNA harbors one putative recognition site for miR-122, and this site is conserved among mammals. Using a luciferase reporter construct with wild-type or mutant Nocturnin 3′-UTR sequence, we demonstrated that overexpression of miR-122 can down-regulate luciferase activity levels and that this effect is dependent on the presence of the putative miR-122 recognition site. Additionally, the use of an antisense oligonucleotide to knock down miR-122 in vivo resulted in significant up-regulation of both Nocturnin mRNA and protein expression in mouse liver during the night, resulting in Nocturnin rhythms with increased amplitude. Together, these data demonstrate that the normal rhythmic profile of Nocturnin expression in liver is shaped in part by miR-122. Previous studies have implicated Nocturnin and miR-122 as important post-transcriptional regulators of both lipid metabolism and circadian clock controlled gene expression in the liver. Therefore, the demonstration that miR-122 plays a role in regulating Nocturnin expression suggests that this may be an important intersection between hepatic metabolic and circadian control.
CRYPTOCHOME proteins are necessary for mammalian circadian rhythms and have many well-established biochemical roles within the molecular clock. While studies examining the effect of null Cry alleles have been informative, they have failed to dissect out the relative importance of, and the molecular mechanisms behind, the many roles of the CRY1 and CRY2 proteins. To address this, we created an allelic series of Cry mutants through random mutagenesis, followed by a cell-based screen to isolate mutants with aberrant repression of CLOCK-BMAL1. We identified 22 mutants with mutations resulting in single amino acid substitutions which cause a variety of deficiencies in different CRY functions. To illustrate the breadth and value of these new tools, we present an in-depth analysis of two of these mutants, CRY2G354D and CRY2G351D; the former shows deficiency in clock protein binding and is required for repression by both CRYs, while in contrast, the latter displays normal binding function but exhibits a CRY2-specific repression phenotype. Further, while overexpression of CRY2 in NIH 3T3 cells caused a dose-dependent decrease in rhythm amplitude, overexpression of CRY2G351D abolished rhythmicity. In summary, characterization of these unique alleles provides new opportunities for more-sophisticated insight into the multifaceted functions of the CRY proteins in circadian rhythms.
Circadian rhythms control the temporal arrangement of molecular, physiological, and behavioral processes within an organism and also synchronize these processes with the external environment. A cell autonomous molecular oscillator, consisting of interlocking transcriptional/translational feedback loops, drives the approximately 24-hour duration of these rhythms. The cryptochrome protein (CRY) plays a central part in the negative feedback loop of the molecular clock by translocating to the nucleus and repressing CLOCK and BMAL1, two transcription factors that comprise the positive elements in this cycle. In order to gain insight into the inner workings of this feedback loop, we investigated the structure/function relationships of Xenopus laevis CRY1 (xCRY1) and xCRY2 in cultured cells. The C-terminal tails of both xCRY1 and xCRY2 are sufficient for their nuclear localization but achieve it by different mechanisms. Through the generation and characterization of xCRY/photolyase chimeras, we found that the second half of the photolyase homology region (PHR) of CRY is important for repression through facilitating interaction with BMAL1. Characterization of these functional domains in CRYs will help us to better understand the mechanism of the known roles of CRYs and to elucidate new intricacies of the molecular clock.
Although CLOCK/BMAL1 heterodimers have been implicated in transcriptional regulation of several rhythmic genes in vitro through E-box sequence elements, little is known about how the circadian clock regulates rhythmic genes with diverse phases in vivo. The gene nocturnin is rhythmically transcribed in Xenopus retinal photoreceptor cells, which contain endogenous circadian clocks. Transcription of nocturnin peaks in these cells in the middle of the night, while CLOCK/BMAL1 activity peaks during the early morning. We have identified a novel protein-binding motif within the nocturnin promoter, which we designated the nocturnin element (NE). Although the NE sequence closely resembles an E-box, our data show that it functions as a cyclic AMP response element (CRE) by binding CREB. Furthermore, phosphorylated CREB (P-CREB) levels are rhythmic in Xenopus photoreceptors, with a phase similar to that of nocturnin transcription. Our results suggest that P-CREB controls the rhythmic regulation of nocturnin transcription and perhaps that of other night phase genes. The NE may be an evolutionary intermediate between the E-box and CRE sequences, both of which seem to be involved in the circadian control of transcription, but have evolved to drive transcription with different phases in these clock-containing cells.
Nocturnin was originally identified by differential display as a circadian clock regulated gene with high expression at night in photoreceptors of the African clawed frog, Xenopus laevis. Although encoding a novel protein, the nocturnin cDNA had strong sequence similarity with a C-terminal domain of the yeast transcription factor CCR4, and with mouse and human ESTs. Since its original identification others have cloned mouse and human homologues of nocturnin/CCR4, and we have cloned a full-length cDNA from mouse retina, along with partial cDNAs from human, cow and chicken. The goal of this study was to determine the temporal pattern of nocturnin mRNA expression in multiple tissues of the mouse.
cDNA sequence analysis revealed a high degree of conservation among vertebrate nocturnin/CCR4 homologues along with a possible homologue in Drosophila. Northern analysis of mRNA in C3H/He and C57/Bl6 mice revealed that the mNoc gene is expressed in a broad range of tissues, with greatest abundance in liver, kidney and testis. mNoc is also expressed in multiple brain regions including suprachiasmatic nucleus and pineal gland. Furthermore, mNoc exhibits circadian rhythmicity of mRNA abundance with peak levels at the time of light offset in the retina, spleen, heart, kidney and liver.
The widespread expression and rhythmicity of mNoc mRNA parallels the widespread expression of other circadian clock genes in mammalian tissues, and suggests that nocturnin plays an important role in clock function or as a circadian clock effector.
Nocturnin is a member of the CCR4 deadenylase family, and its expression is under circadian control with peak levels at night. Because it can remove poly(A) tails from mRNAs, it is presumed to play a role in post-transcriptional control of circadian gene expression, but its target mRNAs are not known. Here we demonstrate that Nocturnin expression is acutely induced by the endotoxin lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Mouse embryo fibroblasts (MEFs) lacking Nocturnin exhibit normal patterns of acute induction of TNFα and iNOS mRNAs during the first three hours following LPS treatment, but by 24 hours, while TNFα mRNA levels are indistinguishable from WT cells, iNOS message is significantly reduced 20-fold. Accordingly, analysis of the stability of the mRNAs showed that loss of Nocturnin causes a significant decrease in the half-life of the iNOS mRNA (t1/2 = 3.3 hours in Nocturnin knockout MEFs vs. 12.4 hours in wild type MEFs), while having no effect on the TNFα message. Furthermore, mice lacking Nocturnin lose the normal nighttime peak of hepatic iNOS mRNA, and have improved survival following LPS injection. These data suggest that Nocturnin has a novel stabilizing activity that plays an important role in the circadian response to inflammatory signals.