Serotonergic Phase Advances of the Mammalian Circadian Clock Involve Protein Kinase A and K+ Channel Opening

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The mammalian circadian clock located in the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) continues to oscillate when isolated in a brain slice preparation, and can be phase shifted in vitro by a variety of serotonergic (5-HTergic) agents. We have previously shown that 5-HT and a 5-HT agonist, quipazine, induce phase advances in the daytime and phase delays at night; the phase advances are mimicked by the 5-HT1A-selective agonist 8-OH-DPAT, by analogs of cyclic AMP, and by treatments that increase endogenous levels of cyclic AMP. Here we investigated the intracellular pathway through which these daytime phase advances occur. We find that quipazine- and 8-OH-DPAT-induced phase advances are blocked by two inhibitors of the cyclic AMP-dependent protein kinase, PK-A (H8 and Rp-cAMPS) as well as by a variety of K+ channel blockers (BaCl2, apamin, and charybdotoxin). Furthermore, we confirm previous work showing that a cyclic AMP analog induces phase advances in the daytime, and show that these phase advances are also blocked by BaCl2 and apamin. Finally, we show that a K+ ionophore induces similar phase advances in the subjective day, and these phase advances are blocked by Rp-cAMPS. These results indicate that both activation of PK-A and opening of K+ channels are necessary for 5-HT-induced phase advances of the SCN circadian clock. We propose a model that can account for our results.

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