Calcium Signaling Mechanisms Mediate Clock-Controlled ATP Gliotransmission among Immortalized Rat SCN2.2 Cell Cultures



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The hypothalamus is an integral part of the brain's regulation of mammalian physiology and behavior. Among many functions, this regulatory center activates the sympathetic nervous system, maintains appropriate body temperature, controls food intake, and controls release of hormones from the pituitary gland. Deep within the hypothalamus lie a paired cluster of cells, the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN), which function as the chief circadian pacemaker. The goal of the present thesis research was to study rhythmically controlled ATP gliotransmission. I used an immortalized SCN2.2 hypothalamic cell line to determine the mechanism by which ATP signaling is regulated in this context. Additionally, this research aimed to elucidate if clock-controlled ATP gliotransmission is fundamentally distinct from stimulus-evoked calcium-dependent mechanisms that regulate intercellular ATP signaling among astrocytes. In this thesis, I show that there are multiple ATP signaling mechanisms present among SCN2.2 cells. cAMP-dependent signaling mediates clock-controlled ATP accumulation but not stimulus-evoked ATP signaling. In addition, pharmacological studies suggest that disparate purinergic receptor-mediated mechanisms are involved in the regulation of clock-controlled versus stimulus-evoked ATP signaling. Rhythmic accumulation of ATP in SCN2.2 cultures is modulated by calcium-dependent processes. Peaks in ATP accumulation coincide with elevated mitochondrial calcium levels, while troughs in ATP accumulation coincide with periods of high cytosolic calcium levels, suggesting a possible mechanistic link between circadian shifts in intracellular calcium handling and ATP handling in SCN2.2 cells. Clock-controlled ATP accumulation in SCN2.2 cells is not a by-product of rhythmic cell cycle or rhythmic cell death. Overall, my research suggests that the ATP accumulation rhythm in SCN2.2 cells is likely an output of the biological clock, mediated by astrocytic calcium signaling processes, and not an output of cell division or cell death. Estimation of ATP accumulation in SCN2.2 cultures at peak time points suggests that clock-controlled ATP release is critical to the function of astrocytes in the mammalian brain, perhaps in the regulation of brain metabolism, the regulation of sleep/wake physiology, or the integration of both.