The suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), the primary circadian pacemaker in mammals, is a network structure composed of multiple types of neurons. Here, we report that mice with a Bmal1 deletion specific to arginine vasopressin (AVP)-producing neurons showed marked lengthening in the free-running period and activity time of behavior rhythms. When exposed to an abrupt 8-hr advance of the light/dark cycle, these mice reentrained faster than control mice did. In these mice, the circadian expression of genes involved in intercellular communications, including Avp, Prokineticin 2, and Rgs16, was drastically reduced in the dorsal SCN, where AVP neurons predominate. In slices, dorsal SCN cells showed attenuated PER2::LUC oscillation with highly variable and lengthened periods. Thus, Bmal1-dependent oscillators of AVP neurons may modulate the coupling of the SCN network, eventually coupling morning and evening behavioral rhythms, by regulating expression of multiple factors important for the network property of these neurons.
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