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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2001 Jul 3;98(14):8089-94. Epub 2001 Jun 26.

Light-induced phase-delay of the chicken pineal circadian clock is associated with the induction of cE4bp4, a potential transcriptional repressor of cPer2 gene.

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Department of Biophysics and Biochemistry, Graduate School of Science, University of Tokyo, Japan.


The chicken pineal gland contains the autonomous circadian oscillator together with the photic-input pathway. We searched for chicken pineal genes that are induced by light in a time-of-day-dependent manner, and isolated chicken homolog of bZIP transcription factor E4bp4 (cE4bp4) showing high similarity to vrille, one of the Drosophila clock genes. cE4bp4 was expressed rhythmically in the pineal gland with a peak at very early (subjective) night under both 12-h light/12-h dark cycle and constant dark conditions, and the phase was nearly opposite to the expression rhythm of cPer2, a chicken pineal clock gene. Luciferase reporter gene assays showed that cE4BP4 represses cPer2 promoter through a E4BP4-recognition sequence present in the 5'-flanking region, indicating that cE4BP4 can down-regulate the chick pineal cPer2 expression. In vivo light-perturbation studies showed that the prolongation of the light period to early subjective night maintained the high level expression of the pineal cE4bp4, and presumably as a consequence delayed the onset of the induction of the pineal cPer2 expression in the next morning. These light-dependent changes in the mRNA levels of the pineal cE4bp4 and cPer2 were followed by a phase-delay of the subsequent cycles of cE4bp4/cPer2 expression, suggesting that cE4BP4 plays an important role in the phase-delaying process as a light-dependent suppressor of cPer2 gene.

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