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PLoS One. 2013 Oct 4;8(10):e76391. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0076391. eCollection 2013.

Comprehensive mapping of regional expression of the clock protein PERIOD2 in rat forebrain across the 24-h day.

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Center for Studies in Behavioral Neurobiology, Department of Psychology, Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.


In mammals, a light-entrainable clock located in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) regulates circadian rhythms by synchronizing oscillators throughout the brain and body. Notably, the nature of the relation between the SCN clock and subordinate oscillators in the rest of the brain is not well defined. We performed a high temporal resolution analysis of the expression of the circadian clock protein PERIOD2 (PER2) in the rat forebrain to characterize the distribution, amplitude and phase of PER2 rhythms across different regions. Eighty-four LEW/Crl male rats were entrained to a 12-h: 12-h light/dark cycle, and subsequently perfused every 30 min across the 24-h day for a total of 48 time-points. PER2 expression was assessed with immunohistochemistry and analyzed using automated cell counts. We report the presence of PER2 expression in 20 forebrain areas important for a wide range of motivated and appetitive behaviors including the SCN, bed nucleus, and several regions of the amygdala, hippocampus, striatum, and cortex. Eighteen areas displayed significant PER2 rhythms, which peaked at different times of day. Our data demonstrate a previously uncharacterized regional distribution of rhythms of a clock protein expression in the brain that provides a sound basis for future studies of circadian clock function in animal models of disease.

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