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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Jan 9;104(2):648-53. Epub 2007 Jan 3.

Prokineticin receptor 2 (Prokr2) is essential for the regulation of circadian behavior by the suprachiasmatic nuclei.

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  • 1The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Wellcome Trust Genome Campus, Hinxton, Cambridge CB10 1SA, United Kingdom.


The suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), the brain's principal circadian pacemaker, coordinates adaptive daily cycles of behavior and physiology, including the rhythm of sleep and wakefulness. The cellular mechanism sustaining SCN circadian timing is well characterized, but the neurochemical pathways by which SCN neurons coordinate circadian behaviors remain unknown. SCN transplant studies suggest a role for (unidentified) secreted factors, and one potential candidate is the SCN neuropeptide prokineticin 2 (Prok2). Prok2 and its cognate prokineticin receptor 2 (Prokr2/Gpcr73l1) are widely expressed in both the SCN and its neural targets, and Prok2 is light-regulated. Hence, they may contribute to cellular timing within the SCN, entrainment of the clock, and/or they may mediate circadian output. We show that a targeted null mutation of Prokr2 disrupts circadian coordination of the activity cycle and thermoregulation. Specifically, mice lacking Prokr2 lost precision in timing the onset of nocturnal locomotor activity; and under both a light/dark cycle and continuous darkness, there was a pronounced temporal redistribution of activity away from early to late circadian night. Moreover, the coherence of circadian behavior was significantly reduced, and nocturnal body temperature was depressed. Entrainment by light is not, however, dependent on Prokr2, and bioluminescence real-time imaging of organotypical SCN slices showed that the mutant SCN is fully competent as a circadian oscillator. We conclude that Prokr2 is not necessary for SCN cellular timekeeping or entrainment, but it is an essential link for coordination of circadian behavior and physiology by the SCN, especially in defining the onset and maintenance of circadian night.

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