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Multiscale Time-resolved Analysis Reveals Remaining Behavioral Rhythms in Mice Without Canonical Circadian Clocks

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/06/2022
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Biological Rhythms
Issue number3
Number of pages19
Pages (from-to)310-328
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date16/05/22
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Circadian rhythms are internal processes repeating approximately every 24 hours in living organisms. The dominant circadian pacemaker is synchronized to the environmental light-dark cycle. Other circadian pacemakers, which can have noncanonical circadian mechanisms, are revealed by arousing stimuli, such as scheduled feeding, palatable meals and running wheel access, or methamphetamine administration. Organisms also have ultradian rhythms, which have periods shorter than circadian rhythms. However, the biological mechanism, origin, and functional significance of ultradian rhythms are not well-elucidated. The dominant circadian rhythm often masks ultradian rhythms; therefore, we disabled the canonical circadian clock of mice by knocking out Per1/2/3 genes, where Per1 and Per2 are essential components of the mammalian light-sensitive circadian mechanism. Furthermore, we recorded wheel-running activity every minute under constant darkness for 272 days. We then investigated rhythmic components in the absence of external influences, applying unique multiscale time-resolved methods to analyze the oscillatory dynamics with time-varying frequencies. We found four rhythmic components with periods of ∼17 h, ∼8 h, ∼4 h, and ∼20 min. When the ∼17-h rhythm was prominent, the ∼8-h rhythm was of low amplitude. This phenomenon occurred periodically approximately every 2-3 weeks. We found that the ∼4-h and ∼20-min rhythms were harmonics of the ∼8-h rhythm. Coupling analysis of the ridge-extracted instantaneous frequencies revealed strong and stable phase coupling from the slower oscillations (∼17, ∼8, and ∼4 h) to the faster oscillations (∼20 min), and weak and less stable phase coupling in the reverse direction and between the slower oscillations. Together, this study elucidated the relationship between the oscillators in the absence of the canonical circadian clock, which is critical for understanding their functional significance. These studies are essential as disruption of circadian rhythms contributes to diseases, such as cancer and obesity, as well as mood disorders.