Lydia Engel

Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz, Mayence, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany

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Publications (11)34.35 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: In mammals, the retina contains a clock system that oscillates independently of the master clock in the suprachiasmatic nucleus and allows the retina to anticipate and to adapt to the sustained daily changes in ambient illumination. Using a combination of laser capture micro-dissection and quantitative PCR in the present study, the clockwork of mammalian photoreceptors has been recorded. The transcript amounts of the core clock genes Clock, Bmal1, Period1 (Per1), Per3, Cryptochrome2, and Casein kinase Iε in photoreceptors of rat retina have been found to undergo daily changes. Clock and Bmal1 peak with Per1 and Per3 around dark onset, whereas Casein kinase Iε and Cryptochrome2 peak at night. As shown for Clock, Per1, and Casein kinase Iε, the oscillation of transcript amounts results in daily changes of the protein products. The in-phase oscillation of Clock/Bmal1 with Pers and the rhythmic expression of Casein kinase Iε do not occur in molecular clocks of other tissues including the suprachiasmatic nucleus. Therefore, the findings presented suggest that the photoreceptor clock is unique not only in its position outside the clock hierarchy mastered by the suprachiasmatic nucleus, but also with regard to the intrinsic rhythmic properties of its molecular components.
    Journal of Neurochemistry 11/2010; 115(3):585-94. · 3.97 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Synaptic ribbons (SRs) are prominent organelles that are abundant in the ribbon synapses of sensory neurons where they represent a specialization of the cytomatrix at the active zone (CAZ). SRs occur not only in neurons, but also in neuroendocrine pinealocytes where their function is still obscure. In this study, we report that pinealocyte SRs are associated with CAZ proteins such as Bassoon, Piccolo, CtBP1, Munc13-1, and the motorprotein KIF3A and, therefore, consist of a protein complex that resembles the ribbon complex of retinal and other sensory ribbon synapses. The pinealocyte ribbon complex is biochemically dynamic. Its protein composition changes in favor of Bassoon, Piccolo, and Munc13-1 at night and in favor of KIF3A during the day, whereas CtBP1 is equally present during the night and day. The diurnal dynamics of the ribbon complex persist under constant darkness and decrease after stimulus deprivation of the pineal gland by constant light. Our findings indicate that neuroendocrine pinealocytes possess a protein complex that resembles the CAZ of ribbon synapses in sensory organs and whose dynamics are under circadian regulation.
    Cell and Tissue Research 08/2008; 333(2):185-95. · 3.68 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The photoreceptive retina and the non-photoreceptive pineal gland are components of the circadian and the melatonin forming system in mammals. To contribute to our understanding of the functional integrity of the circadian system and the melatonin forming system we have compared the daily oscillation of the two tissues under various seasonal lighting conditions. For this purpose, the 24-h profiles of the expression of the genes coding for arylalkylamine N-acetyltransferase (AA-NAT), nerve growth factor inducible gene-A (NGFI-A), nerve growth factor inducible gene-B (NGFI-B), retinoic acid related orphan receptor beta (RORbeta), dopamine D4 receptor, and period2 (Per2) have been simultaneously recorded in the retina and the pineal gland of rats under short day (light/dark 8:16) and long day (light/dark 16:8) conditions. We have found that the cyclical patterns of all genes are phase-advanced in the retina, often with a lengthened temporal interval under short day conditions. In both tissues, the AA-NAT gene expression represents an indication of the output of the relevant pacemakers. The temporal phasing in the AA-NAT transcript amount between the retina and the pineal gland is retained under constant darkness suggesting that the intrinsic self-cycling clock of the retina oscillates in a phase-advanced manner with respect to the self-cycling clock in the suprachiasmatic nucleus, which controls the pineal gland. We therefore conclude that daily rhythms in gene expression in the retina are phase-advanced with respect to the pineal gland, and that the same temporal relationship appears to be valid for the self-cycling clocks influencing the tissues.
    Brain Research 05/2008; 1203:89-96. · 2.88 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The retinal photopigment melanopsin (Opn4) mediates photoentrainment of the circadian system. In the present study, seasonal regulation of the melanopsin gene was investigated in comparison with the arylalkylamine N-acetyltransferase (AA-NAT) gene as an indicator of retinal pacemaker output. For this purpose, the daily profiles in the amount of melanopsin mRNA and AA-NAT mRNA were monitored under 8 : 16 h light/dark, 12 : 12 h light/dark and 16 : 8 h light/dark photoperiods using real-time polymerase chain reaction analysis. We found that, under all of the lighting regimes, melanopsin and AA-NAT expression oscillated with a peak around dark onset and the middle of the dark phase, respectively. The lighting regime influenced both genes, but in an opposing manner. Under long photoperiods, the duration of peak expression was prolonged for melanopsin, whereas it was shortened for AA-NAT. Under constant darkness, the rhythm of mRNA was abolished for melanopsin, but persisted for AA-NAT whereas, under constant light, the rhythm of mRNA was abolished for both genes. Our findings suggest that, in contrast to the AA-NAT gene, the daily and photoperiod-dependent regulation of the melanopsin gene does not rely on a circadian oscillator but is directly illumination-dependent.
    Journal of Neuroendocrinology 01/2008; 19(12):952-7. · 3.51 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The encoding of photoperiodic information ensues in terms of the daily profile in the expression of cyclic AMP (cAMP)-inducible genes such as the arylalkylamine N-acetyltransferase (AA-NAT) gene that encodes the rate-limiting enzyme in melatonin formation. In the present study, we compared the influence of the photoperiodic history on the cAMP-inducible genes AA-NAT, inducible cyclic AMP early repressor (ICER), fos-related antigen-2 (FRA-2), mitogen-activated protein kinase phosphatase-1 (MKP-1), nerve growth factor inducible gene-A (NGFI-A) and nerve growth factor inducible gene-B (NGFI-B) in the pineal gland of rats. For this purpose, we monitored the daily profiles of each gene in the same pineal gland under a long (light/dark 16:8) and a short (light/dark 8:16) photoperiod by measuring the respective mRNA amounts by real-time polymerase chain reaction analysis. We found that, for all genes under investigation, the duration of increased nocturnal expression is lengthened and, in relation to light onset, the nocturnal rise is earlier under the long photoperiod (light/dark 16:8). Furthermore, with the exception of ICER, all other cAMP-inducible genes tend to display higher maximum expression under light/dark 8:16 than under light/dark 16:8. Photoperiod-dependent changes persist for all of the cAMP-inducible genes when the rats are kept for two cycles under constant darkness. Therefore, all cAMP-inducible genes are also influenced by the photoperiod of prior entrained cycles. Our study indicates that, despite differences regarding the expressional control and the temporal phasing of the daily profile, cAMP-inducible genes are uniformly influenced by photoperiodic history in the rat pineal gland.
    Neuroscience 01/2007; 143(2):607-13. · 3.12 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The influence of seasonal lighting conditions on expression of clock genes and the circadian pacemaker was investigated in the rat retina. For this purpose, the 24-h profiles of nine clock genes (bmal1, clock, per1, per2, per3, dec1, dec2, cry1 and cry 2) and the arylalkylamine N-acetyltransferase gene as an indicator of the circadian pacemaker output were compared between light-dark periods of 8 : 16 and 16 : 8 h. The photoperiod influenced the daily patterns of the amount of transcript for per1, per3, dec2 and arylalkylamine N-acetyltransferase. This indicates that photoperiodic information modulates clock gene expression in addition to the circadian pacemaker of the retina. Under constant darkness, photoperiod-dependent changes in the daily profile of the level of transcript persisted for the arylalkylamine N-acetyltransferase gene but not for any of the clock genes. Hence, quantitative expression of each clock gene is influenced by the photoperiod only under the acute light-dark cycle, whereas the pacemaker is capable of storing photoperiodic information from past cycles.
    European Journal of Neuroscience 02/2006; 23(1):105-11. · 3.75 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The suprachiasmatic nucleus-pineal system acts as a neuroendocrine transducer of seasonal changes in the photoperiod by regulating melatonin formation. In the present study, we have investigated the extent to which the photoperiod entrains the nonself-cycling oscillator in the Sprague-Dawley rat pineal. For this purpose, the 24-h expression of nine clock genes (bmal1, clock, per1, per2, per3, cry1, cry2, dec1 and dec2) and the aa-nat gene was monitored under light-dark 8 : 16 and light-dark 16 : 8 in the rat pineal by using real-time RT-PCR. The 24-h pattern of the expression of only per1, dec2 and aa-nat genes was affected by photoperiod. In comparison with the short photoperiod, the duration of elevated expression under the long photoperiod was elongated for per1 and shortened for dec2 and aa-nat. For each of the genes, photoperiod-dependent variations partly persisted under constant darkness. Therefore, the pineal clockwork appears to memorize the photoperiod of prior entrained cycles. The findings of the present study indicate that the nonself-cycling oscillator of the rat pineal is entrained by photoperiodic information and therefore that it participates in seasonal timekeeping.
    European Journal of Neuroscience 05/2005; 21(8):2297-304. · 3.75 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The directly light-sensitive chick pineal gland contains at least two photopigments. Pinopsin seems to mediate the acute inhibitory effect of light on melatonin synthesis, whereas melanopsin may act by phase-shifting the intrapineal circadian clock. In the present study we have investigated, by means of quantitative RT-PCR, the daily rhythm of photopigment gene expression as monitored by mRNA levels. Under a 12-h light/12-h dark cycle, the mRNA levels of both pigments were 5-fold higher in the transitional phase from light to dark than at night, both in vivo and in vitro. Under constant darkness in vivo and in vitro, the peak of pinopsin mRNA levels was attenuated, whereas that of melanopsin was not. Thus, whereas the daily rhythm of pinopsin gene expression is dually regulated by light plus the intrapineal circadian oscillator, that of melanopsin appears to depend solely on the oscillator.
    Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications 02/2005; 326(1):160-5. · 2.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: As the physiological role of fos-related antigen-2 (Fra-2) is largely unknown and since the pineal plays an important role in the photoperiodic control of the body, we have tested the hypothesis that Fra-2 expression is photoperiod-dependent and may be involved in imprinting photoperiod on the pineal gland and the body as a whole. To this end, we have investigated Fra-2 mRNA expression and Fra-2 protein expression under various light/dark (LD) cycles. A clear nocturnal increase occurs for both monitored parameters under all photoperiodic conditions studied. The level of Fra-2 protein expression clearly depends on photoperiod, because the amount of protein at dark onset and during the night negatively correlates with the length of the photoperiod. Further, high-phosphorylated Fra-2 isoforms are abundant under all photoperiods tested, with the exception of LD 20:4. Because Fra-2 phosphorylation depends on cGMP, a depressed cGMP response to adrenergic stimulation under LD 20:4 appears to explain this finding. We conclude that photoperiod is imprinted on Fra-2 in terms of both protein amount and protein phosphorylation in the rat pineal gland. This imprinting becomes fully manifest after about 7 days only, suggesting that a number of altered photoperiodic cycles are required for pineal Fra-2 to "learn" that the photoperiod has changed. Reportedly, Fra-2 limits expression of the enzyme iodothyronine deiodinase type II, which catalyzes the intracellular deiodination of thyroxine prohormone to the active 3,3',5-triiodothyronine. We have found that the extent of Fra-2 expression inversely correlates with the dII gene response to cAMP; hence the photoperiodic regulation of Fra-2 may affect the body by changing pineal thyroid hormone metabolism.
    Neuroscience 02/2005; 132(2):511-8. · 3.12 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The present study examines how the circadian oscillators in the retina and the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) respond to changes in photoperiod. Arylalkylamine N-acetyltransferase (aa-nat) gene expression studied by quantitative RT-PCR revealed that in adult Sprague-Dawley rats kept under different light-dark (LD) cycles for two weeks the temporal pattern of AA-NAT mRNA expression was identical in retina and pineal gland. In both tissues, the time span between the onset of darkness and the nocturnal rise in AA-NAT mRNA expression was 3 h under LD 20:4, 6 h under LD 12:12, and 15 h under LD 4:20. As aa-nat expression in the pineal gland is regulated by the circadian oscillator in SCN, the results suggest that the photoperiodic differences accompanying the seasons of the year are imprinted in more than one oscillator and that this may accentuate the important message regarding 'time of year.'
    Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications 07/2004; 318(4):983-6. · 2.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The nocturnal biosynthesis of melatonin in the rat pineal depends on strongly enhanced expression of the enzyme N-acetyltransferase [arylalkylamine N-acetyltransferase (AA-NAT); EC 2.3.1.87]. AA-NAT transcription is stimulated during darkness by adrenergic inputs to the pineal from the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). Nocturnal activation of the AA-NAT promotor following stimulation of pinealocyte adrenoceptors involves cAMP-dependent stimulation of protein kinase A (PKA). The nocturnal rise in AA-NAT depends on the lighting conditions. As compared with light/dark (LD) 12:12, the delay between dark onset and the nocturnal rise in AA-NAT is shortened under long photoperiods and prolonged under short photoperiods. Here, we report that the rapidity of nocturnal AA-NAT induction depends on cAMP inducibility of the gene. Accordingly, cAMP produces a strong AA-NAT response in pineals obtained from rats housed under long photoperiods and a weak AA-NAT response under short photoperiods. Changes in AA-NAT inducibility are fully developed not earlier than after seven cycles. This observation suggests that long-term changes in the photoperiod are necessary to achieve full adjustment of cAMP inducibility of the gene. A direct relationship was found between cAMP-dependent AA-NAT inducibility and the pineal protein kinase A (PKA) activity. As compared to LD 12:12, PKA activity was increased under LD 20:4 and attenuated under LD 4:20. On the basis of the present findings, we suggest that the photoperiod determines the effectiveness of nocturnal AA-NAT induction by long-term modulation of the intrapineal pathway that transmits the cAMP signal to the AA-NAT gene.
    Molecular Brain Research 05/2004; 123(1-2):45-55. · 2.00 Impact Factor