The molecular mechanisms underlying photoperiodic time measurement are not well understood in any organism. Relatively recently, however, it has become clear that thyroid hormones play an important role in photoperiodism, and in a previous study we reported that long daylengths in Japanese quail increase hypothalamic levels of T3 and of the thyroid hormoneactivating enzyme, type 2 iodothyronine deiodinase. The present study extends these observations to measure gene levels of the thyroid hormone-inactivating enzyme, type 3 deiodinase. Levels decreased after exposure to long days, but increased under short days. Changes in the two genes were then analyzed during the precisely timed photoinduction that occurs in quail exposed to a single long day. The two gene switches are the earliest events yet recorded in the photoinduction process, and overall, these reciprocal changes offer the potential to regulate active brain thyroid hormone concentrations rather precisely at the site in the brain where photoinduction is triggered.
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