Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
J Biol Rhythms. 1992 Winter;7(4):301-11.

Does the circadian pacemaker act through cyclic AMP to drive the melatonin rhythm in chick pineal cells?

Author information

  • 1Section on Biochemical Pharmacology, National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892.


Cyclic AMP is a key regulator of melatonin production in the chick pineal gland. Agents that raise cyclic AMP levels (such as forskolin), or cyclic AMP analogues (such as 8-bromocyclic AMP), increase melatonin synthesis and release, whereas agents that lower cyclic AMP levels (including light) decrease melatonin synthesis and release. A circadian oscillator in these cells also raises and lowers melatonin output. We have been investigating the relationships between cyclic AMP and the circadian pacemaker in the regulation of melatonin production. In the chick pineal (unlike certain neuronal systems), the weight of the evidence indicates that cyclic AMP is not on an entrainment pathway to the circadian pacemaker. Instead, cyclic AMP appears to act downstream from the pacemaker. The pacemaker might itself act directly through cyclic AMP, regulating melatonin content by raising and lowering cyclic AMP levels. If this were the case, and if the effects of cyclic AMP levels on melatonin output are saturable (as they must be), then, in the face of such saturating levels of cyclic AMP, the pacemaker should no longer raise or lower melatonin output. To test this prediction, maximally effective concentrations of forskolin and 8-bromocyclic AMP were determined. Both agents markedly increased melatonin output. After 36 hr, cells were refractory to additional stimulation of melatonin output by addition of both agents together, or by higher concentrations of forskolin (although cyclic AMP levels could still be raised further). Nonetheless, the circadian pacemaker continued to raise and lower melatonin output: The rhythm persisted in the face of saturating levels of cyclic AMP. It is therefore suggested that the circadian pacemaker in chick pineal cells acts with, not through, cyclic AMP to regulate melatonin synthesis. Cyclic AMP and the pacemaker act synergistically to regulate serotonin N-acetyltransferase activity and the melatonin rhythm, with cyclic AMP mediating acute effects and amplitude regulation.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Atypon
    Loading ...
    Support Center