Effects of chronic expression of the HIV-induced protein, transactivator of transcription, on circadian activity rhythms in mice, with or without morphine

Marilyn J. Duncan, Annadora J. Bruce-Keller, Clayton Conner, Pamela E. Knapp, Ruquiang Xu, Avindra Nath, Kurt F. Hauser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Patients with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection exhibit changes in sleep patterns, motor disorders, and cognitive dysfunction; these symptoms may be secondary to circadian rhythm abnormalities. Studies in mice have shown that intracerebral injection of an HIV protein, transactivator of transcription (Tat), alters the timing of circadian rhythms in a manner similar to light. Therefore, we tested the hypothesis that chronic Tat expression alters circadian rhythms, especially their entrainment to a light-dark (LD) cycle, by using transgenic mice in which Tat expression in the brain was induced via a doxycycline (DOX)-sensitive, glial fibrillary-associated, protein-restricted promoter. Because opiate substance abuse, which shares comorbidity with HIV infection, also disrupts sleep, a final experiment assessed the effects of morphine exposure on circadian rhythms in wild-type and Tat transgenic mice. Mice housed in cages equipped with running wheels were fed chow with or without DOX. Experiment 1 revealed a small but significant (P < 0.05) difference between groups in the phase angle of entrainment and a 15% decrease in the wheel running in the DOX group (P < 0.005). During exposure to constant darkness, DOX did not alter the endogenous period length of the circadian rhythm. Experiment 2 investigated the effect of DOX on circadian rhythms in wild-type and Tat(<) mice during exposure to a normal or phase-shifted LD cycle, or morphine treatment without any change in the LD cycle. Tat induction significantly decreased wheel running but did not affect entrainment to the normal or shifted LD cycle. Morphine decreased wheel running without altering the phase angle of entrainment, and the drug's effects were independent of Tat induction. In conclusion, these findings suggest that chronic brain expression of Tat decreases locomotor activity and the amplitude of circadian rhythms, but does not affect photic entrainment or reentrainment of the murine circadian pacemaker.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)R1680-R1687
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2008


  • Human immunodeficiency virus encephalitis
  • Human immunodeficiency virus-acquired immunodeficiency syndrome
  • Locomotor activity
  • Morphine
  • Opioid drug abuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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