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Eur J Neurosci. 1997 Sep;9(9):1950-60.

Light-induced c-Fos expression in the mouse suprachiasmatic nucleus: immunoelectron microscopy reveals co-localization in multiple cell types.

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  • 1Department of Cell and Animal Biology, Silberman Institute of Life Sciences, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel.


Although light is known to regulate the level of c-fos gene expression in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), the site of an endogenous circadian clock, little is known about the identities of the photically activated cells. We used light-microscopic immunocytochemistry and immunoelectron microscopy to detect c-Fos protein in the SCN of Sabra mice exposed to brief nocturnal light pulses at zeitgeber time 15-16. Stimulation with light pulses that saturated the phase-shifting response of the circadian locomotor rhythm revealed an upper limit to the number of photo-inducible c-Fos cells at about one-fifth of the estimated total SCN cell population. This functionally defined set was morphologically and phenotypically heterogeneous. About 24% could be labelled for vasoactive intestinal polypeptide, 13% for vasopressin-neurophysin, and 7% for glial fibrillary acidic protein. The remaining 56% of c-Fos-positive cells were largely of unknown phenotype, although many were presumptive interneurons, some of which were immunoreactive for nitric oxide synthase.

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