Biological Sciences Faculty Publications

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Circadian rhythms are common in many cell types but are reported to be lacking in embryonic stem cells. Recent studies have described possible interactions between the molecular mechanism of circadian clocks and the signaling pathways that regulate stem cell differentiation. Circadian rhythms have not been examined well in neural stem cells and progenitor cells that produce new neurons and glial cells during adult neurogenesis. To evaluate circadian timing abilities of cells undergoing neural differentiation, neurospheres were prepared from the mouse subventricular zone (SVZ), a rich source of adult neural stem cells. Circadian rhythms in mPer1 gene expression were recorded in individual spheres, and cell types were characterized by confocal immunofluorescence microscopy at early and late developmental stages in vitro. Circadian rhythms were observed in neurospheres induced to differentiate into neurons or glia, and rhythms emerged within 3–4 days as differentiation proceeded, suggesting that the neural stem cell state suppresses the functioning of the circadian clock. Evidence was also provided that neural stem progenitor cells derived from the SVZ of adult mice are self-sufficient clock cells capable of producing a circadian rhythm without input from known circadian pacemakers of the organism. Expression of mPer1 occurred in high frequency oscillations before circadian rhythms were detected, which may represent a role for this circadian clock gene in the fast cycling of gene expression responsible for early cell differentiation.

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