The mechanisms that generate robust ionic oscillation in circadian pacemaker neurons are under investigation. Here, we demonstrate critical functions of the mitochondrial cation antiporter leucine zipper-EF-hand-containing transmembrane protein 1 (LETM1), which exchanges K+/H+ in Drosophila and Ca2+/H+ in mammals, in circadian pacemaker neurons. Letm1 knockdown in Drosophila pacemaker neurons reduced circadian cytosolic H+ rhythms and prolonged nuclear PERIOD/TIMELESS expression rhythms and locomotor activity rhythms. In rat pacemaker neurons in the hypothalamic suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), circadian rhythms in cytosolic Ca2+ and Bmal1 transcription were dampened by Letm1 knockdown. Mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake peaks late during the day were also observed in rat SCN neurons following photolytic elevation of cytosolic Ca2+. Since cation transport by LETM1 is coupled to mitochondrial energy synthesis, we propose that LETM1 integrates metabolic, ionic, and molecular clock rhythms in the central clock system in both invertebrates and vertebrates.
Keywords: CP: Metabolism; CP: Neuroscience; caged Ca(2+) compound; circadian H(+) rhythms; clock genes; lateral neurons; mitochondrial calcium imaging; proton imaging.
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