Mitochondrial calcium signaling mediates rhythmic extracellular ATP accumulation in suprachiasmatic nucleus astrocytes. Academic Article uri icon


  • The master circadian pacemaker located within the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) controls neural and neuroendocrine rhythms in the mammalian brain. Astrocytes are abundant in the SCN, and this cell type displays circadian rhythms in clock gene expression and extracellular accumulation of ATP. Still, the intracellular signaling pathways that link the SCN clockworks to circadian rhythms in extracellular ATP accumulation remain unclear. Because ATP release from astrocytes is a calcium-dependent process, we investigated the relationship between intracellular Ca(2+) and ATP accumulation and have demonstrated that intracellular Ca(2+) levels fluctuate in an antiphase relationship with rhythmic ATP accumulation in rat SCN2.2 cell cultures. Furthermore, mitochondrial Ca(2+) levels were rhythmic and maximal in precise antiphase with the peak in cytosolic Ca(2+). In contrast, our finding that peak mitochondrial Ca(2+) occurred during maximal extracellular ATP accumulation suggests a link between these cellular rhythms. Inhibition of the mitochondrial Ca(2+) uniporter disrupted the rhythmic production and extracellular accumulation of ATP. ATP, calcium, and the biological clock affect cell division and have been implicated in cell death processes. Nonetheless, rhythmic extracellular ATP accumulation was not disrupted by cell cycle arrest and was not correlated with caspase activity in SCN2.2 cell cultures. Together, these results demonstrate that mitochondrial Ca(2+) mediates SCN2.2 rhythms in extracellular ATP accumulation and suggest a role for circadian gliotransmission in SCN clock function.

published proceedings

  • J Neurosci

altmetric score

  • 1

author list (cited authors)

  • Burkeen, J. F., Womac, A. D., Earnest, D. J., & Zoran, M. J.

citation count

  • 60

complete list of authors

  • Burkeen, Jeff F||Womac, Alisa D||Earnest, David J||Zoran, Mark J

publication date

  • June 2011