The pineal gland: A model for adrenergic modulation of ubiquitin ligases

Jerry Vriend, Wenjun Liu, Russel J. Reiter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Introduction A recent study of the pineal gland of the rat found that the expression of more than 3000 genes showed significant day/night variations (The Hartley dataset). The investigators of this report made available a supplemental table in which they tabulated the expression of many genes that they did not discuss, including those coding for components of the ubiquitin proteasome system. Herein we identify the genes of the ubiquitin proteasome system whose expression were significantly influenced by environmental lighting in the Hartley dataset, those that were stimulated by DBcAMP in pineal glands in culture, and those that were stimulated by norepinephrine. Purpose Using the Ubiquitin and Ubiquitin-like Conjugation Database (UUCA) we identified ubiquitin ligases and conjugases, and deubiquitinases in the Hartley dataset for the purpose of determining whether expression of genes of the ubiquitin proteasome pathway were significantly influenced by day/night variations and if these variations were regulated by autonomic innervation of the pineal gland from the superior cervical ganglia. Methods In the Hartley experiments pineal glands groups of rats sacrificed during the day and groups sacrificed during the night were examined for gene expression. Additional groups of rats had their superior cervical ganglia removed surgically or surgically decentralized and the pineal glands likewise examined for gene expression. Results The genes with at least a 2-fold day/night significant difference in expression included genes for 5 ubiquitin conjugating enzymes, genes for 58 ubiquitin E3 ligases and genes for 6 deubiquitinases. A 35-fold day/night difference was noted in the expression of the gene Sik1, which codes for a protein containing both an ubiquitin binding domain (UBD) and an ubiquitin-associated (UBA) domain. Most of the significant differences in these genes were prevented by surgical removal, or disconnection, of the superior cervical ganglia, and most were responsive, in vitro, to treatment with a cyclic AMP analog, and norepinephrine. All previously described 24-hour rhythms in the pineal require an intact sympathetic input from the superior cervical ganglia. Conclusions The Hartley dataset thus provides evidence that the pineal gland is a highly useful model for studying adrenergically dependent mechanisms regulating variations in ubiquitin ligases, ubiquitin conjugases, and deubiquitinases, mechanisms that may be physiologically relevant not only in the pineal gland, but in all adrenergically innervated tissue.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0172441
JournalPloS one
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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