[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Spontaneous action potentials in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) are necessary for normal circadian timing of behavior in mammals. The SCN exhibits a daily oscillation in spontaneous firing rate (SFR), but the ionic conductances controlling SFR and the relationship of SFR to subsequent circadian behavioral rhythms are not understood. We show that daily expression of the large conductance Ca2+-activated K+ channel (BK) in the SCN is controlled by the intrinsic circadian clock. BK channel–null mice (Kcnma1-/-) have increased SFRs in SCN neurons selectively at night and weak circadian amplitudes in multiple behaviors timed by the SCN. Kcnma1-/- mice show normal expression of clock genes such as Arntl (Bmal1), indicating a role for BK channels in SCN pacemaker output, rather than in intrinsic time-keeping. Our findings implicate BK channels as important regulators of the SFR and suggest that the SCN pacemaker governs the expression of circadian behavioral rhythms through SFR modulation.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Small arteries exhibit tone, a partially contracted state that is an important determinant of blood pressure. In arterial smooth muscle cells, intracellular calcium paradoxically controls both contraction and relaxation. The mechanisms by which calcium can differentially regulate diverse physiological responses within a single cell remain unresolved. Calcium-dependent relaxation is mediated by local calcium release from the sarcoplasmic reticulum. These ‘calcium sparks’ activate calcium-dependent potassium (BK) channels comprised of α and β1 subunits. Here we show that targeted deletion of the gene for the β1 subunit leads to a decrease in the calcium sensitivity of BK channels, a reduction in functional coupling of calcium sparks to BK channel activation, and increases in arterial tone and blood pressure. The β1 subunit of the BK channel, by tuning the channel's calcium sensitivity, is a key molecular component in translating calcium signals to the central physiological function of vasoregulation.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The purpose of this study was to characterize changes in gene expression in the brain of a seasonal hibernator, the golden-mantled ground squirrel, Spermophilus lateralis, during the hibernation season. Very little information is available on molecular changes that correlate with hibernation state, and what has been done focused mainly on seasonal changes in peripheral tissues. We produced over 4000 reverse transcription-PCR products from euthermic and hibernating brain and compared them using differential display. Twenty-nine of the most promising were examined by Northern analysis. Although some small differences were observed across hibernation states, none of the 29 had significant changes. However, a more direct approach, investigating expression of putative hibernation-responsive genes by Northern analysis, revealed an increase in expression of transcription factors c-fos, junB, and c-Jun, but not junD, commencing during late torpor and peaking during the arousal phase of individual hibernation bouts. In contrast, prostaglandin D2 synthase declined during late torpor and arousal but returned to a high level on return to euthermia. Other genes that have putative roles in mammalian sleep or specific brain functions, including somatostatin, enkephalin, growth-associated protein 43, glutamate acid decarboxylases 65/67, histidine decarboxylase, and a sleep-related transcript SD464 did not change significantly during individual hibernation bouts. We also observed no decline in total RNA or total mRNA during torpor; such a decline had been previously hypothesized. Therefore, it appears that the dramatic changes in body temperature and other physiological variables that accompany hibernation involve only modest reprogramming of gene expression or steady-state mRNA levels.
Journal of Neuroscience 06/1999; 19(10):3781-90. · 6.91 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Our previous studies demonstrated that nicotine induces c-fos expression in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) of the rat during a narrow developmental window occurring in the perinatal period. We have extended these observations by showing that c-fos cannot be induced in the adult SCN by nicotine even during the subjective night, when phase shifts do occur. In contrast to the SCN, significant induction of c-fos and NGFI-A was observed in the medial habenula and paraventricular nucleus at all circadian times. In the fetal rat SCN we show that NGFI-A and junB are also induced by nicotine, but not c-jun. To investigate whether changes in nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) expression in the SCN may underlie this change in sensitivity during the perinatal period, we examined nAChR mRNAs across this developmental period. By Northern analyses, alpha2, alpha3 and alpha4 subunit mRNAs are relatively abundant in the fetal SCN but decline substantially in the adult. alpha7 mRNA increases substantially while beta2 mRNA is relatively abundant throughout development. We also examine expression in the whole mouse brain beginning at embryonic day 11. Many mRNA sizes for nAChR subunits in both the rat and mouse are characterized here for the first time by Northern analyses and some show very large changes in expression across development. In particular, a small 1.4 kb alpha2-related mRNA is highly expressed during early development, perhaps indicating an important novel function for this subunit.
Molecular Brain Research 04/1999; 66(1-2):71-82. · 2.00 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Considerable data support a role for cholinergic influences on the circadian system. The extent to which these influences are mediated by nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) has been controversial, as have the specific actions of nicotine and acetylcholine in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) of the hypothalamus. In this article we review the existing literature and present new data supporting an important role for nAChRs in both the developing and adult SCN. Specifically, we present data showing that nicotine is capable of causing phase shifts in the circadian rhythms of rats. Like light and carbachol, nicotine appears to cause phase delays in the early subjective night and phase advances in the late subjective night. In the isolated SCN slice, however, only phase advances are seen, and, surprisingly, nicotine appears to cause the inhibition rather than the excitation of neurons. Among nAChR subunit mRNAs, α7 appears to be the most abundant subunit in the adult SCN, whereas in the perinatal period, the more typical nAChRs with higher affinity for nicotine predominate in the SCN. This developmental change in subunit expression may explain the dramatic sensitivity of the perinatal SCN to nicotine that we have previously observed. The effects of nicotine on the SCN may contribute to alterations caused by nicotine in other physiological systems. These effects might also contribute to the dependence properties of nicotine through influences on arousal.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Expression of c-fos has been shown to vary throughout the brain over the course of the 24-h day. The magnitude of these changes appear to be similar in a light:dark (LD) cycle or in constant dark (DD). To further examine whether the diurnal and circadian changes in c-fos and other immediate-early gene (IEG) expression in brain are related to waking behaviors such as locomotor activity, we conducted three experiments using Northern analysis. First, we compared IEG expression in nocturnal vs. diurnally active species. Second, we investigated IEG expression in a hibernating species during its active and inactive phases. Third, we examined the development of IEG expression in the young post-natal rat. As a comparison to results obtained in extra-SCN brain regions, we also examined IEG and vasopressin expression in the SCN itself across the circadian cycle. Animals maintained under a 12:12-h LD cycle were sacrificed in the morning (10:00-11:00 h, ZT2-ZT3) or night (22:00-23:00 h, ZT14-ZT15) or at the corresponding circadian times (CT) when kept in DD. Rats sacrificed in the morning always showed lower c-fos expression than at night in all brain areas examined while the reverse pattern was seen in squirrels under both LD and DD conditions, suggesting a direct correlation between c-fos message and activity. The cerebellum displayed the greatest magnitude change between morning and night (often reaching 10-fold). Among other IEGs examined, the expression of NGFI-A and junB are similar to c-fos, but of lesser magnitude, whereas c-jun appears to be invariant in the rat but is increased during the active phase in squirrels. During the hibernation season, squirrels have lower levels of c-fos consistent with their low levels of activity even during their euthermic interbout periods. c-fos expression in the cerebellum and rest of brain of 1-week-old rats sacrificed at ZT3 and ZT15 showed low levels at both timepoints whereas 2- and 3-week-old animals had higher levels at night as do adults. Among other IEGs, junB and NGFI-A again were similar to c-fos while c-jun and junD were more constant. Our observations support the idea of a diurnal rhythm of IEG expression in the CNS that is related to waking behaviors. Among IEGs, c-fos exhibits the greatest daily variation in expression.
Molecular Brain Research 09/1997; 48(1):73-86. · 2.00 Impact Factor