by Isabelle M. Bur, Sonia Zouaoui, Pierre Fontanaud, Nathalie Coutry, François Molino, Agnès O. Martin, Patrice Mollard, Xavier Bonnefont
The mammalian circadian system is composed of multiple peripheral clocks that are synchronized by a central pacemaker in the suprachiasmatic nuclei of the hypothalamus. This system keeps track of the external world rhythms through entrainment by various time cues, such as the light-dark cycle and the feeding schedule. Alterations of photoperiod and meal time modulate the phase coupling between central and peripheral oscillators. In this study, we used real-time quantitative PCR to assess circadian clock gene expression in the liver and pituitary gland from mice raised under various photoperiods, or under a temporal restricted feeding protocol. Our results revealed unexpected differences between both organs. Whereas the liver oscillator always tracked meal time, the pituitary circadian clockwork showed an intermediate response, in between entrainment by the light regimen and the feeding-fasting rhythm. The same composite response was also observed in the pituitary gland from adrenalectomized mice under daytime restricted feeding, suggesting that circulating glucocorticoids do not inhibit full entrainment of the pituitary clockwork by meal time. Altogether our results reveal further aspects in the complexity of phase entrainment in the circadian system, and suggest that the pituitary may host oscillators able to integrate multiple time cues.