Time-of-day- and light-dependent expression of ubiquitin protein ligase E3 component N-recognin 4 (UBR4) in the suprachiasmatic nucleus circadian clock

PLoS One. 2014 Aug 1;9(8):e103103. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0103103. eCollection 2014.


Circadian rhythms of behavior and physiology are driven by the biological clock that operates endogenously but can also be entrained to the light-dark cycle of the environment. In mammals, the master circadian pacemaker is located in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), which is composed of individual cellular oscillators that are driven by a set of core clock genes interacting in transcriptional/translational feedback loops. Light signals can trigger molecular events in the SCN that ultimately impact on the phase of expression of core clock genes to reset the master pacemaker. While transcriptional regulation has received much attention in the field of circadian biology in the past, other mechanisms including targeted protein degradation likely contribute to the clock timing and entrainment process. In the present study, proteome-wide screens of the murine SCN led to the identification of ubiquitin protein ligase E3 component N-recognin 4 (UBR4), a novel E3 ubiquitin ligase component of the N-end rule pathway, as a time-of-day-dependent and light-inducible protein. The spatial and temporal expression pattern of UBR4 in the SCN was subsequently characterized by immunofluorescence microscopy. UBR4 is expressed across the entire rostrocaudal extent of the SCN in a time-of-day-dependent fashion. UBR4 is localized exclusively to arginine vasopressin (AVP)-expressing neurons of the SCN shell. Upon photic stimulation in the early subjective night, the number of UBR4-expressing cells within the SCN increases. This study is the first to identify a novel E3 ubiquitin ligase component, UBR4, in the murine SCN and to implicate the N-end rule degradation pathway as a potential player in regulating core clock mechanisms and photic entrainment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calmodulin-Binding Proteins
  • Cell Line
  • Circadian Clocks / genetics*
  • Circadian Rhythm / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Light*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / chemistry
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / genetics*
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / metabolism
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Peptides / genetics
  • Peptides / metabolism
  • Photoperiod
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Transport
  • Proteome
  • Proteomics / methods
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Suprachiasmatic Nucleus / metabolism*
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases / chemistry
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases / genetics*
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases / metabolism


  • Calmodulin-Binding Proteins
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins
  • Peptides
  • Proteome
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases
  • Ubr4 protein, mouse