regulatory roles of the cone-rod homeobox transcription factor in the rodent pineal gland
Nocturnal synthesis of melatonin in the pineal gland is controlled by a circadian rhythm in arylalkylamine N-acetyltransferase (AANAT) enzyme activity. In the rodent, Aanat gene expression displays a marked circadian rhythm; release of norepinephrine in the gland at night causes a cAMP-based induction of Aanat transcription. However, additional transcriptional control mechanisms exist. Homeobox genes, which are generally known to encode transcription factors controlling developmental processes, are also expressed in the mature rodent pineal gland. Among these, the cone-rod homeobox (CRX) transcription factor is believed to control pineal-specific Aanat expression. Based on recent advances in our understanding of Crx in the rodent pineal gland, we here suggest that homeobox genes play a role in adult pineal physiology both by ensuring pineal-specific Aanat expression and by facilitating cAMP response element-based circadian melatonin production.
Biomed Research International, 2014, Vol 2014, p. 1-8