Orchestration of gene expression across the seasons: Hypothalamic gene expression in natural photoperiod throughout the year in the Siberian hamster

Sci Rep. 2016 Jul 11;6:29689. doi: 10.1038/srep29689.


In nature Siberian hamsters utilize the decrement in day length following the summer solstice to implement physiological adaptations in anticipation of the forthcoming winter, but also exploit an intrinsic interval timer to initiate physiological recrudescence following the winter solstice. However, information is lacking on the temporal dynamics in natural photoperiod of photoperiodically regulated genes and their relationship to physiological adaptations. To address this, male Siberian hamsters born and maintained outdoors were sampled every month over the course of one year. As key elements of the response to photoperiod, thyroid hormone signalling components were assessed in the hypothalamus. From maximum around the summer solstice (late-June), Dio2 expression rapidly declined in advance of physiological adaptations. This was followed by a rapid increase in Mct8 expression (T3/T4 transport), peaking early-September before gradually declining to minimum expression by the following June. Dio3 showed a transient peak of expression beginning late-August. A recrudescence of testes and body mass occurred from mid-February, but Dio2 expression remained low until late-April of the following year, converging with the time of year when responsiveness to short-day length is re-established. Other photoperiodically regulated genes show temporal regulation, but of note is a transient peak in Gpr50 around late-July.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cricetinae
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation / physiology*
  • Hypothalamus / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Phodopus
  • Photoperiod*
  • Seasons*
  • Thyroid Hormones / biosynthesis*
  • Thyroid Hormones / genetics


  • Thyroid Hormones