Nitric oxide (NO) plays an important role in phase-shifting of circadian neuronal activities in the suprachiasmatic nucleus and circadian behavior activity rhythms. In the retina, NO production is increased in a light-dependent manner. While endogenous circadian oscillators in retinal photoreceptors regulate their physiological states, it is not clear whether NO also participates in the circadian regulation of photoreceptors. In this study, we demonstrate that NO is involved in the circadian phase-dependent regulation of L-type voltage-gated calcium channels (L-VGCCs). In chick cone photoreceptors, the L-VGCCα1 subunit expression and the maximal L-VGCC currents are higher at night, and both Ras-mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK)-extracellular signal-regulated kinase (Erk) and Ras-phosphatidylinositol 3 kinase (PI3K)-protein kinase B (Akt) are part of the circadian output pathways regulating L-VGCCs. The NO-cGMP-protein kinase G (PKG) pathway decreases L-VGCCα1 subunit expression and L-VGCC currents at night, but not during the day, and exogenous NO donor or cGMP decreases the phosphorylation of Erk and Akt at night. The protein expression of neural NO synthase (nNOS) is also under circadian control, with both nNOS and NO production being higher during the day. Taken together, NO/cGMP/PKG signaling is involved as part of the circadian output pathway to regulate L-VGCCs in cone photoreceptors.
In cone photoreceptors, the protein expression of neural nitric oxide synthase (nNOS) and NO production are under circadian control. NO-cGMP-protein kinase G (PKG) signaling serves in the circadian output pathway to regulate the circadian rhythms of L-type voltage-gated calcium channels (L-VGCCs) in part through regulating the phosphorylation states of extracellular-signal-regulated kinase (Erk) and protein kinase B (Akt).