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Am J Physiol. 1990 Sep;259(3 Pt 1):E384-8.

Entrainment of circadian phase in developing gray short-tailed opossums: mother vs. environment.

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Laboratory of Developmental Chronobiology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston 02114.


In a marsupial species, the gray short-tailed opossum (Monodelphis domestica), the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN), the site of a circadian clock, are formed postnatally and begin oscillating as a circadian clock on day 20. In this study, we examined how the timing (phase) of the SCN clock in the developing opossum is coordinated to the environmental light-dark cycle. When pups were reared from birth in darkness by intact dams, the circadian phases in SCN metabolic activity (monitored by 2-deoxy-D-[14C]glucose autoradiography) in 27-day-old pups were desynchronized. When pups were reared in a light-dark cycle that was 12 h out of phase with the circadian time of blinded dams, the pattern of SCN metabolic activity on day 20 was rhythmic and in phase with the light-dark cycle but out of phase with the circadian time of the dam. On day 20, retina-mediated light activation of SCN metabolic activity was also demonstrated, and anterograde tract-tracing studies revealed the presence of the retinohypothalamic tract within the SCN. These results show there is no influence of the opossum dam on the timing of the pup's biological clock. Instead, from the inception of the daily rhythm in SCN metabolic activity, its timing is regulated by retina-mediated light-dark entrainment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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