Photoperiodic regulation of cellular retinoic acid-binding protein 1, GPR50 and nestin in tanycytes of the third ventricle ependymal layer of the Siberian hamster

Perry Barrett, Elena Ivanova, E. Scott Graham, Alexander Ross, Dana Lorraine Wilson, Helene Ple, Julian Mercer, Francis J. Ebling, Sandrine Schuhler, Sandrine M. Dupre, Andrew Loudon, Peter John Morgan

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Tanycytes in the ependymal layer of the third ventricle act both as a barrier and a communication gateway between the cerebrospinal fluid, brain and portal blood supply to the pituitary gland. However, the range, importance and mechanisms involved in the function of tanycytes remain to be explored. In this study, we have utilized a photoperiodic animal to examine the expression of three unrelated gene sequences in relation to photoperiod-induced changes in seasonal physiology and behaviour. We demonstrate that cellular retinoic acid-binding protein 1 (CRBP1), a retinoic acid transport protein, GPR50, an orphan G-protein-coupled receptor and nestin, an intermediate filament protein, are down-regulated in short-day photoperiods. The distribution of the three sequences is very similar, with expression located in cells with tanycyte morphology in the region of the ependymal layer where tanycytes are located. Furthermore, CRBP1 expression in the ependymal layer is shown to be independent of a circadian clock and altered testosterone levels associated with testicular regression in short photoperiod. Pinealectomy of Siberian hamsters demonstrates CRBP1 expression is likely to be dependent on melatonin output from the pineal gland. This provides evidence that tanycytes are seasonally responsive cells and are likely to be an important part of the mechanism to facilitate seasonal physiology and behaviour in the Siberian hamster.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)687-698
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Endocrinology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2006


  • melatonin-related receptor
  • intermediate-filament protein
  • messenger-ribonucleic-acid
  • growth-factor-I
  • gene-expression
  • hypothalamic tanycytes
  • Djungarian Hamster
  • arcuate nucleus
  • pars tuberalis
  • body-weight

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