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Nat Neurosci. 2002 Mar;5(3):234-8.

Rhythmic gene expression in pituitary depends on heterologous sensitization by the neurohormone melatonin.

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Institute of Anatomy II, Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University, Theodor-Stern-Kai 7, D-60590 Frankfurt, Germany.


In mammals, many daily cycles are driven by a central circadian clock, which is based on the cell-autonomous rhythmic expression of clock genes. It is not clear, however, how peripheral cells are able to interpret the rhythmic signals disseminated from this central oscillator. Here we show that cycling expression of the clock gene Period1 in rodent pituitary cells depends on the heterologous sensitization of the adenosine A2b receptor, which occurs through the nocturnal activation of melatonin mt1 receptors. Eliminating the impact of the neurohormone melatonin simultaneously suppresses the expression of Period1 and evokes an increase in the release of pituitary prolactin. Our findings expose a mechanism by which two convergent signals interact within a temporal dimension to establish high-amplitude, precise and robust cycles of gene expression.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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