Photoperiod differentially regulates the expression of Per1 and ICER in the pars tuberalis and the suprachiasmatic nucleus of the Siberian hamster

S Messager, D G Hazlerigg, J G Mercer, P J Morgan

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Previous studies demonstrated that the clock gene Per1 and the transcription factor ICER are expressed rhythmically in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) and in the pars tuberalis (PT). In the Syrian hamster the duration of photoperiod affects the amplitude of gene expression in the PT, and melatonin administered before lights-on suppressed the peak of Per1/ICER expression; these effects were not seen in the SCN. It was speculated that the inefficacy of melatonin was due to the low density of melatonin receptors in the SCN of this species. The aim of the present study was to determine whether this phenomenon also occurs in the Siberian hamster, which expresses a higher density of melatonin receptors in the SCN. Male Siberian hamsters were housed in long days (16 h light : 8 h dark) or short days (8 h light : 16 h dark) and expression of Per1 and ICER mRNA was studied by in situ hybridization. The expression of Per1 and ICER mRNA in the PT peaked 3 h following lights-on (ZT3) under both photoperiods. The amplitudes of these peaks were greatly attenuated under short photoperiod. In the SCN, the duration of Per1 gene expression was proportional to the length of the light phase, but only a modest amplitude effect was observed. Injections of melatonin (25 mu g) 1 h before lights-on significantly reduced the expression of both genes in the PT at ZT3, but had no effect in the SCN. These data demonstrate that photoperiod-dependent amplitude modulation of Per1 and ICER gene expression in the PT is conserved across species, and reinforce the argument that this phenomenon is driven by melatonin.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2865-2870
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - 2000


  • clock gene
  • melatonin
  • Phodopus sungorus
  • rhythm
  • seasonal
  • GENE
  • MPER1

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