Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology

Circadian expression of clock and putative clock-controlled genes in skeletal muscle of the zebrafish

Ian P. G. Amaral, Ian A. Johnston


To identify circadian patterns of gene expression in skeletal muscle, adult male zebrafish were acclimated for 2 wk to a 12:12-h light-dark photoperiod and then exposed to continuous darkness for 86 h with ad libitum feeding. The increase in gut food content associated with the subjective light period was much diminished by the third cycle, enabling feeding and circadian rhythms to be distinguished. Expression of zebrafish paralogs of mammalian transcriptional activators of the circadian mechanism (bmal1, clock1, and rora) followed a rhythmic pattern with a ∼24-h periodicity. Peak expression of rora paralogs occurred at the beginning of the subjective light period [Zeitgeber time (ZT)07 and ZT02 for roraa and rorab], whereas the highest expression of bmal1 and clock paralogs occurred 12 h later (ZT13–15 and ZT16 for bmal and clock paralogs). Expression of the transcriptional repressors cry1a, per1a/1b, per2, per3, nr1d2a/2b, and nr1d1 also followed a circadian pattern with peak expression at ZT0–02. Expression of the two paralogs of cry2 occurred in phase with clock1a/1b. Duplicated genes had a high correlation of expression except for paralogs of clock1, nr1d2, and per1, with cry1b showing no circadian pattern. The highest expression difference was 9.2-fold for the activator bmal1b and 51.7-fold for the repressor per1a. Out of 32 candidate clock-controlled genes, only myf6, igfbp3, igfbp5b, and hsf2 showed circadian expression patterns. Igfbp3, igfbp5b, and myf6 were expressed in phase with clock1a/1b and had an average of twofold change in expression from peak to trough, whereas hsf2 transcripts were expressed in phase with cry1a and had a 7.2-fold-change in expression. The changes in expression of clock and clock-controlled genes observed during continuous darkness were also observed at similar ZTs in fish exposed to a normal photoperiod in a separate control experiment. The role of circadian clocks in regulating muscle maintenance and growth are discussed.

  • bmal
  • myf6
  • igfbp3
  • igfbp5
  • circadian rhythms
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