It is well known that the circadian clock is partially controlled by genetic factors. For example, twin studies suggested that human diurnal behavior is 50-60% heritable . However, environmental effects on circadian behavior have received little attention. Previous studies have shown that entrainment to light/dark cycles longer or shorter than 24 hours can result in long-lasting changes of the endogenous free-running period (FRP) . The mechanisms driving such plasticity are unknown. In other fields of research, it was found that early life environmental change induces changes in the DNA methylation pattern of the genome [3-4]. This epigenetic modification involves the addition of a methyl group to the 5’ position of cytosine nucleotides. DNA methylation stably alters the transcription without altering gene sequence. Given that this modification is highly dynamic during development, and it can be influenced directly by environmental modifications , we wanted to investigate its role in determining circadian clock properties. This project focuses on how early-life lighting environment affects circadian behavior and epigenetic properties of the SCN, and how these changes affect the network properties of the SCN neurons.
Whole genome DNA methylation analysis (Microarray)
Targeted DNA methylation analysis (sequencing approach)
Transcriptomic analysis. SCN slice culture
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