The suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) is the central circadian clock in mammals. It is entrained by light but resistant to temperature shifts that entrain peripheral clocks [1–5]. The SCN expresses many functionally important neuropeptides, including vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP), which drives light entrainment, synchrony, and amplitude of SCN cellular clocks and organizes circadian behavior [5–16]. The transcription factor LHX1 drives SCN Vip expression, and cellular desynchrony in Lhx1-deficient SCN largely results from Vip loss [17, 18]. LHX1 regulates many genes other than Vip, yet activity rhythms in Lhx1-deficient mice are similar to Vip−/− mice under light-dark cycles and only somewhat worse in constant conditions. We suspected that LHX1 targets other than Vip have circadian functions overlooked in previous studies. In this study, we compared circadian sleep and temperature rhythms of Lhx1- and Vip-deficient mice and found loss of acute light control of sleep in Lhx1 but not Vip mutants. We also found loss of circadian resistance to fever in Lhx1 but not Vip mice, which was partially recapitulated by heat application to cultured Lhx1-deficient SCN. Having identified VIP-independent functions of LHX1, we mapped the VIP-independent transcriptional network downstream of LHX1 and a largely separable VIP-dependent transcriptional network. The VIP-independent network does not affect core clock amplitude and synchrony, unlike the VIP-dependent network. These studies identify Lhx1 as the first gene required for temperature resistance of the SCN clockworks and demonstrate that acute light control of sleep is routed through the SCN and its immediate output regions.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)