Transcriptional Profiling of the Chick Pineal Gland, a Photoreceptive Circadian Oscillator and Pacemaker

Michael J. Bailey, Phillip D. Beremand, Rick Hammer, Deborah Bell-Pedersen, Terry L. Thomas, Vincent M. Cassone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

95 Scopus citations


The avian pineal gland contains both circadian oscillators and photoreceptors to produce rhythms in biosynthesis of the hormone melatonin in vivo and in vitro. The molecular mechanisms for melatonin biosynthesis are largely understood, but the mechanisms driving the rhythm itself or the photoreceptive processes that entrain the rhythm are unknown. We have produced cDNA microarrays of pineal gland transcripts under light-dark and constant darkness conditions. Rhythmic transcripts were classified according to function, representing diverse functional groups, including phototransduction pathways, transcription/translation factors, ion channel proteins, cell signaling molecules, and immune function genes. These were also organized relative to time of day mRNA abundance in light-dark and constant darkness. The transcriptional profile of the chick pineal gland reveals a more complex form of gene regulation than one might expect from a gland whose sole apparent function is the rhythmic biosynthesis of melatonin. The mRNAs encoding melatonin biosynthesis are rhythmic as are many orthologs of mammalian "clock genes." However, the oscillation of phototransductive, immune, stress response, hormone binding, and other important processes in the transcriptome of the pineal gland, raises new questions regarding the role of the pineal gland in circadian rhythm generation, organization, and avian physiology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2084-2095
Number of pages12
JournalMolecular Endocrinology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Endocrinology


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