Daily expression of six clock genes in central and peripheral tissues of a night-migratory songbird: Evidence for tissue-specific circadian timing

Devraj Singh, Sangeeta Rani, Vinod Kumar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


In birds, independent circadian clocks reside in the retina, pineal, and hypothalamus, which interact with each other and produce circadian time at the functional level. However, less is known of the molecular clockwork, and of the integration between central and peripheral clocks in birds. The present study investigated this, by monitoring the timed expression of five core clock genes (Per2. Cry1. Cry2. Bmal1, and Clock) and one clock-controlled gene (E4bp4) in a night-migratory songbird, the redheaded bunting (rb; Emberiza bruniceps). The authors first partially cloned these six genes, and then measured their 24-h profiles in central (retina, hypothalamus) and peripheral (liver, heart, stomach, gut, testes) tissues, collected at six times (zeitgeber time 2 [ZT2], ZT6, ZT11, ZT13, ZT18, and ZT23; ZT0=lights on) from birds (n=5 per ZT) on 12h:12h light-dark cycle. rbPer2. rbCry1. rbBmal1, and rbClock were expressed with a significant rhythm in all the tissues, except in the retina (only rbClock) and testes. rbCry2, however, had tissue-specific expression pattern: a significant rhythm in the hypothalamus, heart, and gut, but not in the retina, liver, stomach, and testes. rbE4bp4 had a significant mRNA rhythm in all the tissues, except retina. Further, rbPer2 mRNA peak was phase aligned with lights on, whereas rbCry1. rbBmal1, and rbE4bp4 mRNA peaks were phase aligned with lights off. rbCry2 and rbClock had tissue-specific scattered peaks. For example, both rbCry2 and rbClock peaks were close to rbCry1 and rbBmal1 peaks, respectively, in the hypothalamus, but not in other tissues. The results are consistent with the autoregulatory circadian feedback loop, and indicate a conserved tissue-level circadian time generation in buntings. Variable phase relationships between gene pairs forming positive and negative limbs of the feedback loop may suggest the tissue-specific contribution of individual core circadian genes in the circadian time generation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1208-1217
Number of pages10
JournalChronobiology International
Issue number10
StatePublished - Dec 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study received generous funding from the Department of Science and Technology, New Delhi, India, through IRHPA research funding (IR/SO/LU-02/2005).


  • Bmal1
  • Circadian rhythm
  • Clock
  • Clock genes
  • Cry1
  • Cry2
  • E4bp4
  • Per2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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