Genetically Blocking the Zebrafish Pineal Clock Affects Circadian Behavior

Zohar Ben-Moshe Livne, Shahar Alon, Daniela Vallone, Yared Bayleyen, Adi Tovin, Inbal Shainer, Laura G. Nisembaum, Idit Aviram, Sima Smadja-Storz, Michael Fuentes, Jack Falcón, Eli Eisenberg, David C. Klein, Harold A. Burgess, Nicholas S. Foulkes, Yoav Gothilf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


The master circadian clock in fish has been considered to reside in the pineal gland. This dogma is challenged, however, by the finding that most zebrafish tissues contain molecular clocks that are directly reset by light. To further examine the role of the pineal gland oscillator in the zebrafish circadian system, we generated a transgenic line in which the molecular clock is selectively blocked in the melatonin-producing cells of the pineal gland by a dominant-negative strategy. As a result, clock-controlled rhythms of melatonin production in the adult pineal gland were disrupted. Moreover, transcriptome analysis revealed that the circadian expression pattern of the majority of clock-controlled genes in the adult pineal gland is abolished. Importantly, circadian rhythms of behavior in zebrafish larvae were affected: rhythms of place preference under constant darkness were eliminated, and rhythms of locomotor activity under constant dark and constant dim light conditions were markedly attenuated. On the other hand, global peripheral molecular oscillators, as measured in whole larvae, were unaffected in this model. In conclusion, characterization of this novel transgenic model provides evidence that the molecular clock in the melatonin-producing cells of the pineal gland plays a key role, possibly as part of a multiple pacemaker system, in modulating circadian rhythms of behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1006445
JournalPLoS Genetics
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2016
Externally publishedYes

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