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Light- and clock-dependent regulation of ribosomal S6 kinase activity in the suprachiasmatic nucleus


: Dr Karl Obrietan, as above.


Recent work has revealed that signalling via the p42/44 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway couples light to entrainment of the circadian clock located in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). Given that many effects of the MAPK pathway are mediated by intermediate kinases, it was of interest to identify kinase targets of ERK in the SCN. One potential target is the family of 90-kDa ribosomal S6 kinases (RSKs). In this study, we examined light-induced regulation of RSK-1 in the SCN. Immunohistochemical and Western analysis were used to show that photic stimulation during the early and late night triggered the phosphorylation of RSK-1 at two sites that are targeted by ERK. This increase in the phosphorylation state of RSK-1 corresponded with an approximate fourfold increase in kinase activity. Light exposure during the subjective day did not increase the phosphorylated form of RSK-1, indicating that the capacity of light to stimulate RSK-1 activation is phase-restricted. Double immunofluorescent labelling of SCN tissue revealed the colocalized expression of the activated form of ERK with the phosphorylated form of RSK-1 following a light pulse. In vivo pharmacological inhibition of light-induced MAPK pathway activation blocked RSK-1 phosphorylation, indicating that RSK-1 activity is regulated by the MAPK pathway. PDK-1, a coregulator of RSK-1, is also expressed in the SCN and is likely to contribute to RSK-1 activity. RSK-1 phosphorylation was also rhythmically regulated within a subset of phospho-ERK-expressing cells. Together these results identify RSK-1 as a light- and clock-regulated kinase and raise the possibility that it contributes to entrainment and timing of the circadian pacemaker.