Gluconeogenesis is de novo glucose synthesis from substrates such as amino acids and is vital when glucose is lacking in the diurnal nutritional fluctuation. Accordingly, genes for hepatic gluconeogenic enzymes exhibit daily expression rhythms, whose detailed regulations under nutritional variations remain elusive. As a first step, we performed general systematic characterization of daily expression profiles of gluconeogenic enzyme genes for phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase (PEPCK), cytosolic form (Pck1), glucose-6-phosphatase (G6Pase), catalytic subunit (G6pc), and tyrosine aminotransferase (TAT) (Tat) in the mouse liver. On a standard diet fed ad libitum, mRNA levels of these genes showed robust daily rhythms with a peak or an elevation phase during the late sleep-fasting period in the diurnal feeding/fasting (wake/sleep) cycle. The rhythmicity was preserved in constant darkness, modulated with prolonged fasting, attenuated by Clock mutation, and entrained to varied photoperiods and time-restricted feedings. These results are concordant with the notion that gluconeogenic enzyme genes are under the control of the intrinsic circadian oscillator, which is entrained by the light/dark cycle, and which in turn entrains the feeding/fasting cycle and also drives systemic signaling pathways such as the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. On the other hand, time-restricted feedings also showed that the ingestion schedule, when separated from the light/dark cycle, can serve as an independent entrainer to daily expression rhythms of gluconeogenic enzyme genes. Moreover, nutritional changes dramatically modified expression profiles of the genes. In addition to prolonged fasting, a high-fat diet and a high-carbohydrate (no-protein) diet caused modification of daily expression rhythms of the genes, with characteristic changes in profiles of glucoregulatory hormones such as corticosterone, glucagon, and insulin, as well as their modulators including ghrelin, leptin, resistin, glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP), and glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1). Remarkably, high-protein (60% casein or soy-protein) diets activated the gluconeogenic enzyme genes atypically during the wake-feeding period, with paradoxical up-regulation of glucagon, which frequently formed correlation networks with other humoral factors. Based on these results, we propose that daily expression rhythms of gluconeogenic enzyme genes are under the control of systemic oscillator-driven and nutrient-responsive hormones.
Keywords: Circadian rhythm; blood glucose; clock genes; hyperglycemia; hypoglycemia.