Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
. 2014 Mar;17(3):377-82.
doi: 10.1038/nn.3651. Epub 2014 Feb 16.

Circadian Behavior Is Light-Reprogrammed by Plastic DNA Methylation


Circadian Behavior Is Light-Reprogrammed by Plastic DNA Methylation

Abdelhalim Azzi et al. Nat Neurosci. .


The timing of daily circadian behavior can be highly variable among different individuals, and twin studies have suggested that about half of this variability is environmentally controlled. Similar plasticity can be seen in mice exposed to an altered lighting environment, for example, 22-h instead of 24-h, which stably alters the genetically determined period of circadian behavior for months. The mechanisms mediating these environmental influences are unknown. We found that transient exposure of mice to such lighting stably altered global transcription in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) of the hypothalamus (the master clock tissue regulating circadian behavior in mammals). In parallel, genome-wide methylation profiling revealed global alterations in promoter DNA methylation in the SCN that correlated with these changes. Behavioral, transcriptional and DNA methylation changes were reversible after prolonged re-entrainment to 24-h d. Notably, infusion of a methyltransferase inhibitor to the SCN suppressed period changes. We conclude that the SCN utilizes DNA methylation as a mechanism to drive circadian clock plasticity.

Comment in

Similar articles

See all similar articles

Cited by 81 articles

See all "Cited by" articles


    1. Nat Methods. 2011 Dec 28;9(1):7-8 - PubMed
    1. Learn Mem. 2013 Jan 15;20(2):61-74 - PubMed
    1. Nat Biotechnol. 2009 Apr;27(4):361-8 - PubMed
    1. Neuron. 2007 Mar 15;53(6):857-69 - PubMed
    1. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Feb 5;105(5):1602-7 - PubMed

Publication types

MeSH terms


Associated data

LinkOut - more resources