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Curr Biol. 2003 Sep 2;13(17):1538-42.

Dissociation between circadian Per1 and neuronal and behavioral rhythms following a shifted environmental cycle.

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Department of Neurophysiology, Leiden University Medical Center, Wassenaarseweg 62, P.O. Box 9604, 2300 RC, Leiden, The Netherlands.


The suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) of the anterior hypothalamus contains a major circadian pacemaker that imposes or entrains rhythmicity on other structures by generating a circadian pattern in electrical activity. The identification of "clock genes" within the SCN and the ability to dynamically measure their rhythmicity by using transgenic animals open up new opportunities to study the relationship between molecular rhythmicity and other well-documented rhythms within the SCN. We investigated SCN circadian rhythms in Per1-luc bioluminescence, electrical activity in vitro and in vivo, as well as the behavioral activity of rats exposed to a 6-hr advance in the light-dark cycle followed by constant darkness. The data indicate large and persisting phase advances in Per1-luc bioluminescence rhythmicity, transient phase advances in SCN electrical activity in vitro, and an absence of phase advances in SCN behavioral or electrical activity measured in vivo. Surprisingly, the in vitro phase-advanced electrical rhythm returns to the phase measured in vivo when the SCN remains in situ. Our study indicates that hierarchical levels of organization within the circadian timing system influence SCN output and suggests a strong and unforeseen role of extra-SCN areas in regulating pacemaker function.

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