Daily Oscillation and Photoresponses of Clock Gene, Clock , and Clock‐Associated Gene, Arylalkylamine N‐acetyltransferase Gene Transcriptions in the Rat Pineal Gland
This study was conducted to investigate the circadian rhythms and light responses of Clock and arylalkylamine N-acetyltransferase (NAT) gene expressions in the rat pineal gland under the environmental conditions of a 12 h light (05:00-17:00 h): 12 h-dark (17:00-05:00 h) cycle (LD) and constant darkness (DD). The pineal gland of Sprague-Dawley rats housed under a LD regime (n=42) for four weeks and of a regime (n=42) for eight weeks were sampled at six different times, every 4 h (n=7 animals per time point), during a 24 h period. Total RNA was extracted from each sample, and the semiquantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) was used to determine temporal changes in mRNA levels of Clock and NAT genes during different circadian or zeitgeber times. The data and parameters were analyzed by the cosine function software, Clock Lab software, and the amplitude F test was used to reveal the circadian rhythm. In the DD or LD condition, both the Clock and NAT mRNA levels in the pineal gland showed robust circadian oscillation (p<0.05) with the peak at the subjective night or at nighttime. In comparison with the DD regime, the amplitudes and mRNA levels at the peaks of Clock and NAT expressions in LD in the pineal gland were significantly reduced (p<0.05). In the DD or LD condition, the circadian expressions of NAT were similar in pattern to those of Clock in the pineal gland (p>0.05). These findings indicate that the transcriptions of Clock and NAT genes in the pineal gland not only show remarkably synchronous endogenous circadian rhythmic changes, but also respond to the ambient light signal in a reduced manner.
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