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Comp Biochem Physiol A Mol Integr Physiol. 2006 Jul;144(3):345-50. Epub 2005 Oct 25.

Molecular mechanism of the photoperiodic response of gonads in birds and mammals.

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Division of Biomodeling, Graduate School of Bioagricultural Sciences, and Institute for Advanced Research, Nagoya University, Nagoya 464-8601, Japan.


Appropriate timing of various seasonal processes is crucial to the survival and reproductive success of animals living in temperate regions. When seasonally breeding animals are subjected to annual changes in day length, dramatic changes in neuroendocrine-gonadal activity take place. However, the molecular mechanism underlying the photoperiodic response of gonads remains unknown for all living organisms. It is well known that a circadian clock is somehow involved in the regulation of photoperiodism. Recently, rhythmic expression of circadian clock genes was observed in the mediobasal hypothalamus (MBH) of Japanese quail. The MBH is believed to be the center for photoperiodism. In addition, long-day-induced hormone conversion of the prohormone thyroxine (T(4)) to the bioactive triiodothyronine (T(3)) by deiodinase in the MBH has been proven to be important to the photoperiodic response of the gonads. Although the regulating mechanism for the photoperiodic response of gonads in birds and mammals has long been considered to be quite different, the long-day-induced expression of the deiodinase gene in the hamster hypothalamus suggests the existence of a conserved regulatory mechanism in avian and mammalian photoperiodism.

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