A Period (per)-Like Protein Exhibits Daily Rhythmicity In The Suprachiasmatic Nuclei Of The Rat

K. L. Rosewell
Kathleen King Siwicki, Swarthmore College
P. M. Wise


The period (per) gene of Drosophila melanogaster is considered an important biological clock gene, since it regulates multiple behavioral rhythms. Per mRNA and protein exhibit circadian rhythms in the fruitfly brain and these rhythms appear to influence each other through a feedback loop. More recently, using the same antibody as was used in the Drosophila studies, PER-like proteins were detected in the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) of male rats. This region of the brain is considered to be a major neural circadian pacemaker in mammals. The purpose of this study was to confirm that PER-like proteins are detectable in the SCN of female rats and to determine whether PER-like proteins exhibit a circadian rhythm. Female rats were killed at several times of day under both light/dark and constant conditions. Using the same anti-PER antibody in Western blots with Enhanced Chemiluminescence (Western-ECL) detection, the levels of the PER-like proteins were quantified in the SCN and cerebral cortex. The antibody identified a doublet band of approximately 170-160 kDa and a single band at 115 kDa. Of the three PER-like proteins only the largest exhibited a daily rhythm in the SCN, which peaked in the middle of the dark and attained its nadir around lights off; levels during the light were intermediate with a tendency towards a second drop around lights on. This rhythm did not persist under constant dim red light. The data demonstrate that an antigen similar to PER exhibits a daily rhythm in the pacemaker region of the rat brain and suggest that it may play a role in the maintenance of 24-h rhythmicity in mammals.