Npas4 is activated by melatonin, and drives the clock gene cry1 in the ovine pars tuberalis

A. West, S. M. Dupré, L. Yu, I. R. Paton, K. Miedzinska, A. S. Mcneilly, J. R E Davis, D. W. Burt, A. S I Loudon

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Seasonal mammalsintegrate changes in the duration of nocturnal melatonin secretion to drive annual physiologic cycles. Melatonin receptors within the proximal pituitary region, the pars tuberalis (PT), are essential in regulating seasonal neuroendocrine responses. In the ovine PT, melatonin is known to influence acute changes in transcriptional dynamics coupled to the onset (dusk) and offset (dawn) of melatonin secretion, leading to a potential interval-timing mechanism capable of decoding changes in day length (photoperiod). Melatonin offset at dawn is linked to cAMP accumulation, which directly induces transcription of the clock gene Per1. The rise of melatonin at dusk induces a separate and distinct cohort, including the clock-regulated genes Cry1 and Nampt, but little is known of the upstream mechanisms involved. Here, we used next-generation sequencing of the ovine PT transcriptome at melatonin onset and identified Npas4 as a rapidly induced basic helix-loop-helix Per-Arnt-Sim domain transcription factor. In vivo we show nuclear localization of NPAS4 protein in presumptive melatonin target cells of the PT (α-glycoprotein hormone-expressing cells), whereas in situ hybridization studies identified acute and transient expression in the PT of Npas4 in response to melatonin. In vitro, NPAS4 forms functional dimers with basic helix loop helix-PAS domain cofactors aryl hydrocarbon receptor nuclear translocator (ARNT), ARNT2, and ARNTL, transactivating both Cry1 and Nampt ovine promoter reporters. Using a combination of 5'-deletions and site-directed mutagenesis, we show NPAS4-ARNT transactivation to be codependent upon two conserved central midline elements within the Cry1 promoter. Our data thus reveal NPAS4 as a candidate immediate early-response gene in the ovine PT, driving molecular responses to melatonin. © 2013 by The Endocrine Society.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)979-989
    Number of pages10
    JournalMolecular Endocrinology
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2013


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