Modulation of metabolic and clock gene mRNA rhythms by pineal and retinal circadian oscillators

Stephen P. Karaganis, Paul A. Bartell, Vikram R. Shende, Ashli F. Moore, Vincent M. Cassone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Avian circadian organization involves interactions between three neural pacemakers: the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN), pineal, and retina. Each of these structures is linked within a neuroendocrine loop to influence downstream processes and peripheral oscillations. However, the contribution of each structure to drive or synchronize peripheral oscillators or circadian outputs in avian species is largely unknown. To explore these interactions in the chick, we measured 2-deoxy[14C]-glucose (2DG) uptake and mRNA expression of the chick clock genes bmal1, cry1, and per3 in three brain areas and in two peripheral organs in chicks that underwent pinealectomy, enucleation, or sham surgery. We found that 2DG uptake rhythms damp under constant darkness in intact animals, while clock gene mRNA levels continue to cycle, demonstrating that metabolic rhythms are not directly driven by clock gene transcription. Moreover, 2DG rhythms are not phase-locked to rhythms of clock gene mRNA. However, pinealectomy and enucleation had similar disruptive effects on both metabolic and clock gene rhythms, suggesting that both of these oscillators act similarly to reinforce molecular and physiological rhythms in the chicken. Finally, we show that the relative phasing of at least one clock gene, cry1, varies between central and peripheral oscillators in a tissue specific manner. These data point to a complex, differential orchestration of central and peripheral oscillators in the chick, and, importantly, indicate a disconnect between canonical clock gene regulation and circadian control of metabolism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-192
Number of pages14
JournalGeneral and Comparative Endocrinology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Duncan MacKenzie for providing us the homogenizer used for tissue processing, and Phil Beremand for his assistance in maintaining shared instrumentation used in this study. Thanks also to Jiffin Paulose for help with data analysis software. This work was supported by NIH PO1–NS39546 to V.M. Cassone.


  • 2DG uptake
  • Avian
  • Brain
  • Chicken
  • Circadian
  • Clock gene
  • Eyes
  • Heart
  • Liver
  • Metabolism
  • Peripheral
  • Pineal
  • Retina

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Endocrinology


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