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J Pineal Res. 2001 Mar;30(2):108-15.

Evidence for a direct effect of melatonin on mitochondrial genome expression of Siberian hamster brown adipocytes.

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UMR 5018, UPS-CNRS, IFR 31, CHU Rangueil, Toulouse, France.


Photoperiod variations are known to participate in the regulation of energy balance in different rodent species via melatonin, a neurosecretory product synthesized by the pineal gland during the night. A direct effect of melatonin on adipose tissue has been suggested since binding sites for the indole have been described on brown adipocytes. The aim of this study was to investigate a genetic effect of melatonin on isolated Siberian hamster brown adipocytes using differential display RT-PCR (DDRT-PCR). Brown adipose cells were isolated from brown adipose tissue and treated for 3 hr with 0.1 and 10 microM melatonin. Total RNA was extracted and DDRT-PCR experiments were performed. A differential band, which disappeared after melatonin treatment, was detected. After confirmation and cloning, the corresponding cDNA fragment B18 was sequenced. B18 had 85 and 81% similarity with a portion of rat and mouse cytochrome b mRNA, respectively, suggesting that B18 corresponds to hamster cytochrome b. This hypothesis was confirmed by the close parallel between the changes in mRNA content, detected by B18, and by cytochrome b mRNA content, detected by a rat probe. Cytochrome b mRNA is encoded by the mitochondrial genome, suggesting a similar effect of melatonin on the whole mitochondrial transcripts. Indeed, 3 hr of treatment with melatonin (10 nM and 0.1 microM) decreased by 44% mitochondrial transcript contents. This work constitutes the first evidence of a direct biological effect of melatonin on Siberian hamster brown adipocytes.

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