Temporal changes of mRNA expression of three clock genes, qPer2, qPer3 and qClock, were studied in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) of Japanese quail under different light conditions, as well as under the condition of continuous melatonin. In addition, the expression of melatonin receptor genes, Mel1a and Mel1c, in the SCN were also examined. The expression of qPer2 mRNA showed robust oscillation during both light and dark (LD) 12:12 cycles and under constant dark conditions (DD), but did not exhibit circadian rhythmicity in constant light conditions (LL), instead being expressed at a consistently high level. Expression of qPer3 also showed robust oscillation under both LD and DD conditions. Unlike qPer2 however, qPer3 mRNA expression remained rhythmic under LL conditions. Contrary to the findings on the other clock genes, no remarkable rhythmicity was detectable in either light condition. Both Mel1a and Mel1c mRNAs were detected in the SCN, however, Mel1a mRNA levels were higher than Mel1c and showed daily rhythmicity. Although implantation of melatonin tubes caused constant high levels of plasma melatonin and consequently masked the endogenous daily melatonin rhythm, no significant differences in the expression pattern of any of the three clock genes were observed between birds with and without constant melatonin. In addition, a single injection of melatonin did not affect mRNA expression of these clock genes. These results suggest that melatonin does not affect transcription of clock genes, but may act on the mechanism of synchronization among SCN oscillatory cells.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes