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Constitutive activation of ras in neurons: implications for the regulation of the mammalian circadian clock

Constitutive activation of ras in neurons: implications for the regulation of the mammalian circadian clock

Chronobiology International 23(1-2): 191-200

ISSN/ISBN: 0742-0528

PMID: 16687293

DOI: 10.1080/07420520500521970

Almost all organisms living on earth exhibit rhythms under the control of autonomous timekeeping mechanisms referred to as circadian clocks. In mammals, peripheral clocks are synchronized (entrained) with high precision in a 24 h periodicity by the master circadian clock located in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) of the ventral hypothalamus. Light is the strongest phase-adjusting stimulus of the circadian clock. Circadian oscillations are driven by transcription/translation-based feedback/feedforward loops, comprising a set of clock genes and their protein products. The signalling pathways that couple light input to transcriptional, translational, and post-translational changes to ensure precise entrainment of the clock are not yet well characterized. A candidate pathway for transmission of photic information in the SCN is represented by the extracellular signal-regulated kinases ERK1/ERK2. In neurons, the ERK pathway is activated by a large array of stimuli, including trophic factors, neurotransmitters, and modulatory peptides. An upstream element of the ERK signalling route is the small intracellular membrane-anchored G-protein, Ras. In order to study its possible role in the entrainment of the circadian clock we are using transgenic gain-of-function mice expressing constitutively activated Val-12 Ha-Ras selectively in neurons (synRas mice). The Ha-Ras transgene protein is expressed in the SCN of synRas mice neurons serving as a model for interfering with the normal rhythmic changes in Ras activities in the SCN. This will allow us to investigate whether the associated modulation of the downstream targets such as ERK activities will interfere with the mechanisms of entrainment.

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