Fos expression in the suprachiasmatic nucleus during photic entrainment of circadian rhythms in retinally damaged rats
The transcription factor Fos is implicated in neuronal signaling in the suprachiasmatic nucleus, the mammalian circadian clock (Ikonomov and Stoynev, 1994; Klein et al., 1991; Kornhauser et al., 1996). Fos is expressed in two different regions within the suprachiasmatic nucleus. In the ventrolateral, retinorecipient, core region (Leak et al., 1999; Moga and Moore, 1997), Fos is induced by light and expression is closely linked, both temporally and functionally, to clock resetting and entrainment of circadian rhythms (Aronin et al., 1990; Beaulé and Amir, 1999; Hastings et al., 1995; Kornhauser et al., 1996; Kornhauser et al., 1990; Rea, 1989, 1998; Rusak et al., 1990; Wollnik et al., 1995). In the dorsomedial shell region (Leak et al., 1999), Fos expression is rhythmic (Guido et al., 1999a,b; Rusak et al., 1992; Sumova and Illnerova, 1998; Sumova et al., 1998). Expression is high during the subjective day when photic sensitivity of the core is minimal, and low in the subjective night, when photic sensitivity of the core is maximal. Although it has been shown that the pattern of Fos expression in the shell tracks the photoperiod (Sumova et al., 2000), nothing is known about whether light influences the expression of Fos in the shell region or about the role of Fos expression in the shell in clock resetting and entrainment. In the present study we found that, in rats maintained in constant darkness, brief exposure to light in the early subjective day or night induced Fos in the core, as expected, and acutely suppressed the levels of Fos immunoreactivity in the shell region. Similar changes in Fos expression in the core and shell regions were seen after exposure to a brief entraining light. Light exposure in the mid-subjective day or night differentially affected Fos expression in the core, as previously shown, but had no effect on Fos expression in the shell region. The finding that Fos expression in the shell region of the suprachiasmatic nucleus is suppressed by light at dawn and dusk suggests a critical role for the shell in photic entrainment of circadian rhythms in nocturnal rodents.