Research Paper Volume 2, Issue 5 pp 285—297
Circadian clock proteins control adaptation to novel environment and memory formation
- 1 Lerner Research Institute, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH 44195, USA
- 2 Department of Biological, Geological and Environmental Sciences and Center for Gene Regulation in Health and Disease, Cleveland State University, Cleveland, OH 44115, USA
- 3 Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, NY 14203, USA
received: April 21, 2010 ; accepted: April 30, 2010 ; published: May 2, 2010 ;https://doi.org/10.18632/aging.100142
How to Cite
Deficiency of the transcription factor BMAL1, a core component of the circadian clock, results in an accelerated aging phenotype in mice. The circadian clock regulates many physiological processes and was recently implicated in control of brain-based activities, such as memory formation and the regulation of emotions. Aging is accompanied by the decline in brain physiology, particularly decline in the response and adaptation to novelty. We investigated the role of the circadian clock in exploratory behavior and habituation to novelty using the open field paradigm. We found that mice with a deficiency of the circadian transcription factor BMAL1 display hyperactivity in novel environments and impaired intra- and intersession habituation, indicative of defects in short- and long-term memory formation. In contrast, mice double-deficient for the circadian proteins CRY1 and CRY2 (repressors of the BMAL1-mediated transcription) demonstrate reduced activity and accelerated habituation when compared to wild type mice. Mice with mutation in theClock gene (encoding the BMAL1 transcription partner) show normal locomotion, but increased rearing activity and impaired intersession habituation. BMAL1 is highly expressed in the neurons of the hippocampus - a brain region associated with spatial memory formation; BMAL1 deficiency disrupts circadian oscillation in gene expression and reactive oxygen species homeostasis in the brain, which may be among the possible mechanisms involved. Thus, we suggest that the BMAL1:CLOCK activity is critical for the proper exploratory and habituation behavior, and that the circadian clock prepares organism for a new round of everyday activities through optimization of behavioral learning.