A circadian clock regulates a number of diverse physiological functions in the vertebrate eye. In this study, we show that mRNA for the red-sensitive cone pigment, iodopsin, fluctuates with a circadian rhythm in chicken retina. Transcript levels increase in the late afternoon just prior to the time of cone disc shedding. Furthermore, iodopsin mRNA levels are regulated similarly by a circadian oscillator in primary cultures of dispersed embryonic chick retina. Nuclear run-on experiments show that the circadian regulation of iodopsin transcript abundance occurs at the level of gene transcription. Our results provide a demonstration of clock-regulated gene expression in a vertebrate preparation maintained in cell culture.
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