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PLoS One. 2013 Jul 2;8(7):e67118. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0067118. Print 2013.

Negative regulation of neuromedin U mRNA expression in the rat pars tuberalis by melatonin.

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Area of Regulatory Biology, Division of Life Science, Graduate School of Science and Engineering, Saitama University, Sakuraku, Saitama, Japan.


The pars tuberalis (PT) is part of the anterior pituitary gland surrounding the median eminence as a thin cell layer. The characteristics of PT differ from those of the pars distalis (PD), such as cell composition and gene expression, suggesting that the PT has a unique physiological function compared to the PD. Because the PT highly expresses melatonin receptor type 1, it is considered a mediator of seasonal and/or circadian signals of melatonin. Expression of neuromedin U (NMU) that is known to regulate energy balance has been previously reported in the rat PT; however, the regulatory mechanism of NMU mRNA expression and secretion in the PT are still obscure. In this study, we examined both the diurnal change of NMU mRNA expression in the rat PT and the effects of melatonin on NMU in vivo. In situ hybridization and quantitative PCR analysis of laser microdissected PT samples revealed that NMU mRNA expression in the PT has diurnal variation that is high during the light phase and low during the dark phase. Furthermore, melatonin administration significantly suppressed NMU mRNA expression in the PT in vivo. On the other hand, 48 h fasting did not have an effect on PT-NMU mRNA expression, and the diurnal change of NMU mRNA expression was maintained. We also found the highest expression of neuromedin U receptor type 2 (NMUR2) mRNA in the third ventricle ependymal cell layer, followed by the arcuate nucleus and the spinal cord. These results suggest that NMU mRNA expression in the PT is downregulated by melatonin during the dark phase and shows diurnal change. Considering that NMU mRNA in the PT showed the highest expression level in the brain, PT-NMU may act on NMUR2 in the brain, especially in the third ventricle ependymal cell layer, with a circadian rhythm.

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