c-fos mRNA is spontaneously induced in the rat brain during the activity period of the circadian cycle

Eur J Neurosci. 1993 Aug 1;5(8):1071-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-9568.1993.tb00960.x.


The basal expression of the proto-oncogene c-fos was studied by Northern blot analysis in different regions of the rat brain during 24 h. A striking spontaneous oscillation of c-fos mRNA expression was detected in animals kept in basal conditions with a 12 h light/12 h dark cycle. In these animals c-fos mRNA was just detectable during the rest hours (morning through afternoon), and was high during the activity hours (night). The periodicity of this oscillation persisted and became free-running when the animals were exposed for 6 consecutive days to constant light or darkness. It was thus demonstrated that the fluctuation of c-fos expression is circadian and is not created by the light-dark cycle, but the latter exerts a synchronizing effect. The oscillation of c-fos mRNA was modified by manipulations of the rest-activity cycle. In particular, the fluctuation observed in basal conditions was inverted, keeping the animals awake during the rest hours (diurnal) and allowing them to sleep in the activity period (nocturnal). These data indicated a close relationship between the oscillation of c-fos expression and the rest-activity cycle. Finally, electroencephalographic (EEG) monitoring was performed under behavioural control for 3 h before the animals were killed. These experiments confirmed that, irrespective of the time of day, the EEG pattern typical of a state of sleep (including both slow waves and paradoxical sleep) was associated with low or undetectable c-fos levels, whereas the protracted EEG desynchronization corresponding to wakefulness was associated with high c-fos expression.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activity Cycles / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Blotting, Northern
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Circadian Rhythm*
  • Male
  • Photoperiod
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-fos / genetics*
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Sleep / physiology
  • Tissue Distribution
  • Transcription, Genetic
  • Wakefulness / physiology


  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-fos
  • RNA, Messenger