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      Encoding and Decoding Photoperiod in the Mammalian Pars Tuberalis

      ,

      Neuroendocrinology

      S. Karger AG

      MT1, Pars tuberalis, Prolactin, Photoperiodism, Melatonin

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          Abstract

          In mammals, the nocturnal melatonin signal is well established as a key hormonal indicator of seasonal changes in day-length, providing the brain with an internal representation of the external photoperiod. The pars tuberalis (PT) of the pituitary gland is the major site of expression of the G-coupled receptor MT1 in the brain and is considered as the main site of integration of the photoperiodic melatonin signal. Recent studies have revealed how the photoperiodic melatonin signal is encoded and conveyed by the PT to the brain and the pituitary, but much remains to be resolved. The development of new animal models and techniques such as cDNA arrays or high throughput sequencing has recently shed the light onto the regulatory networks that might be involved. This review considers the current understanding of the mechanisms driving photoperiodism in the mammalian PT with a particular focus on the seasonal prolactin secretion.

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          Most cited references 99

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          Thyrotrophin in the pars tuberalis triggers photoperiodic response.

          Molecular mechanisms regulating animal seasonal breeding in response to changing photoperiod are not well understood. Rapid induction of gene expression of thyroid-hormone-activating enzyme (type 2 deiodinase, DIO2) in the mediobasal hypothalamus (MBH) of the Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica) is the earliest event yet recorded in the photoperiodic signal transduction pathway. Here we show cascades of gene expression in the quail MBH associated with the initiation of photoinduced secretion of luteinizing hormone. We identified two waves of gene expression. The first was initiated about 14 h after dawn of the first long day and included increased thyrotrophin (TSH) beta-subunit expression in the pars tuberalis; the second occurred approximately 4 h later and included increased expression of DIO2. Intracerebroventricular (ICV) administration of TSH to short-day quail stimulated gonadal growth and expression of DIO2 which was shown to be mediated through a TSH receptor-cyclic AMP (cAMP) signalling pathway. Increased TSH in the pars tuberalis therefore seems to trigger long-day photoinduced seasonal breeding.
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            Generation of the melatonin endocrine message in mammals: a review of the complex regulation of melatonin synthesis by norepinephrine, peptides, and other pineal transmitters.

            Melatonin, the major hormone produced by the pineal gland, displays characteristic daily and seasonal patterns of secretion. These robust and predictable rhythms in circulating melatonin are strong synchronizers for the expression of numerous physiological processes in photoperiodic species. In mammals, the nighttime production of melatonin is mainly driven by the circadian clock, situated in the suprachiasmatic nucleus of the hypothalamus, which controls the release of norepinephrine from the dense pineal sympathetic afferents. The pivotal role of norepinephrine in the nocturnal stimulation of melatonin synthesis has been extensively dissected at the cellular and molecular levels. Besides the noradrenergic input, the presence of numerous other transmitters originating from various sources has been reported in the pineal gland. Many of these are neuropeptides and appear to contribute to the regulation of melatonin synthesis by modulating the effects of norepinephrine on pineal biochemistry. The aim of this review is firstly to update our knowledge of the cellular and molecular events underlying the noradrenergic control of melatonin synthesis; and secondly to gather together early and recent data on the effects of the nonadrenergic transmitters on modulation of melatonin synthesis. This information reveals the variety of inputs that can be integrated by the pineal gland; what elements are crucial to deliver the very precise timing information to the organism. This also clarifies the role of these various inputs in the seasonal variation of melatonin synthesis and their subsequent physiological function.
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              Mammalian photoperiodic system: formal properties and neuroendocrine mechanisms of photoperiodic time measurement.

              Photoperiodism is a process whereby organisms are able to use both absolute measures of day length and the direction of day length change as a basis for regulating seasonal changes in physiology and behavior. The use of day length cues allows organisms to essentially track time-of-year and to "anticipate" relatively predictable annual variations in important environmental parameters. Thus, adaptive types of seasonal biological changes can be molded through evolution to fit annual environmental cycles. Studies of the formal properties of photoperiodic mechanisms have revealed that most organisms use circadian oscillators to measure day length. Two types of paradigms, designated as the external and internal coincidence models, have been proposed to account for photoperiodic time measurement by a circadian mechanism. Both models postulate that the timing of light exposure, rather than the total amount of light, is critical to the organism's perception of day length. In mammals, a circadian oscillator(s) in the suprachiasmatic nucleus of the hypothalamus receives photic stimuli via the retinohypothalamic tract. The circadian system regulates the rhythmic secretion of the pineal hormone, melatonin. Melatonin is secreted at night, and the duration of secretion varies in inverse relation to day length; thus, photoperiod information is "encoded" in the melatonin signal. The melatonin signal is presumably "decoded" in melatonin target tissues that are involved in the regulation of a variety of seasonal responses. Variations in photoperiodic response are seen not only between species but also between breeding populations within a species and between individuals within single breeding populations. Sometimes these variations appear to be the result of differences in responsiveness to melatonin; in other cases, variations in photoperiod responsiveness may depend on differences in patterns of melatonin secretion related to circadian variation. Sites of action for melatonin in mammals are not yet well characterized, but potential targets of particular interest include the pars tuberalis of the pituitary gland and the suprachiasmatic nuclei. Both these sites exhibit uptake of radiolabeled melatonin in various species, and there is some evidence for direct action of melatonin at these sites. However, it appears that there are species differences with respect to the importance and specific functions of various melatonin target sites.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                NEN
                Neuroendocrinology
                10.1159/issn.0028-3835
                Neuroendocrinology
                S. Karger AG
                0028-3835
                1423-0194
                2011
                September 2011
                22 July 2011
                : 94
                : 2
                : 101-112
                Affiliations
                University of Manchester, Faculty of Life Sciences, Manchester, UK
                Author notes
                *Sandrine M. Dupré, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PT (UK), Tel. +44 16 1275 5264, E-Mail Sandrine.dupre@manchester.ac.uk
                Article
                328971 Neuroendocrinology 2011;94:101–112
                10.1159/000328971
                21778697
                © 2011 S. Karger AG, Basel

                Copyright: All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be translated into other languages, reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, microcopying, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. Drug Dosage: The authors and the publisher have exerted every effort to ensure that drug selection and dosage set forth in this text are in accord with current recommendations and practice at the time of publication. However, in view of ongoing research, changes in government regulations, and the constant flow of information relating to drug therapy and drug reactions, the reader is urged to check the package insert for each drug for any changes in indications and dosage and for added warnings and precautions. This is particularly important when the recommended agent is a new and/or infrequently employed drug. Disclaimer: The statements, opinions and data contained in this publication are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of the publishers and the editor(s). The appearance of advertisements or/and product references in the publication is not a warranty, endorsement, or approval of the products or services advertised or of their effectiveness, quality or safety. The publisher and the editor(s) disclaim responsibility for any injury to persons or property resulting from any ideas, methods, instructions or products referred to in the content or advertisements.

                Page count
                Figures: 2, Pages: 12
                Categories
                At the Cutting Edge

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