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Nucleic Acids Res. 2012 Sep 1;40(17):8519-35. Epub 2012 Jun 29.

RORγ directly regulates the circadian expression of clock genes and downstream targets in vivo.

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Cell Biology Section, Systems Biology Group, Biostatistics Branch, Division of Intramural Research, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709, USA.


In this study, we demonstrate that the lack of retinoic acid-related orphan receptor (ROR) γ or α expression in mice significantly reduced the peak expression level of Cry1, Bmal1, E4bp4, Rev-Erbα and Per2 in an ROR isotype- and tissue-selective manner without affecting the phase of their rhythmic expression. Analysis of RORγ/RORα double knockout mice indicated that in certain tissues RORγ and RORα exhibited a certain degree of redundancy in regulating clock gene expression. Reporter gene analysis showed that RORγ was able to induce reporter gene activity through the RORE-containing regulatory regions of Cry1, Bmal1, Rev-Erbα and E4bp4. Co-expression of Rev-Erbα or addition of a novel ROR antagonist repressed this activation. ChIP-Seq and ChIP-Quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (QPCR) analysis demonstrated that in vivo RORγ regulate these genes directly and in a Zeitgeber time (ZT)-dependent manner through these ROREs. This transcriptional activation by RORs was associated with changes in histone acetylation and chromatin accessibility. The rhythmic expression of RORγ1 by clock proteins may lead to the rhythmic expression of RORγ1 target genes. The presence of RORγ binding sites and its down-regulation in RORγ-/- liver suggest that the rhythmic expression of Avpr1a depends on RORγ consistent with the concept that RORγ1 provides a link between the clock machinery and its regulation of metabolic genes.

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