Daily electrical activity in the master circadian clock of a diurnal mammal

Beatriz Bano-Otalora, Matthew J. Moye, Timothy Brown, Robert J. Lucas, Casey O. Diekman, Mino D.C. Belle

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14 Scopus citations


Circadian rhythms in mammals are orchestrated by a central clock within the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN). Our understanding of the electrophysiological basis of SCN activity comes overwhelmingly from a small number of nocturnal rodent species, and the extent to which these are retained in day-active animals remains unclear. Here, we recorded the spontaneous and evoked electrical activity of single SCN neurons in the diurnal rodent Rhabdomys pumilio, and developed cutting-edge data assimilation and mathematical modeling approaches to uncover the underlying ionic mechanisms. As in nocturnal rodents, R. pumilio SCN neurons were more excited during daytime hours. By contrast, the evoked activity of R. pumilio neurons included a prominent suppressive response that is not present in the SCN of nocturnal rodents. Our modeling revealed and subsequent experiments confirmed transient subthreshold A-type potassium channels as the primary determinant of this response, and suggest a key role for this ionic mechanism in optimizing SCN function to accommodate R. pumilio’s diurnal niche.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere68179
StatePublished - Nov 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology


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