A seasonal switch in histone deacetylase gene expression in the hypothalamus and their capacity to modulate nuclear signaling pathways

Patrick N. Stoney, Diana Rodrigues, Gisela Helfer, Thabat Khatib, Anna Ashton, Elizabeth A Hay, Robert Starr, Dagmara Kociszewska, Peter Morgan, Peter McCaffery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
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Seasonal animals undergo changes in physiology and behavior between summer and winter conditions. These changes are in part driven by a switch in a series of hypothalamic genes under transcriptional control by hormones and, of recent interest, inflammatory factors. Crucial to the control of transcription are histone deacetylases (HDACs), generally acting to repress transcription by local histone modification. Seasonal changes in hypothalamic HDAC transcripts were investigated in photoperiod-sensitive F344 rats by altering the day-length (photoperiod). HDAC4, 6 and 9 were found to change in expression. The potential influence of HDACs on two hypothalamic signaling pathways that regulate transcription, inflammatory and nuclear receptor signaling, was investigated. For inflammatory signaling the focus was on NF-κB because of the novel finding made that its expression is seasonally regulated in the rat hypothalamus. For nuclear receptor signaling it was discovered that expression of retinoic acid receptor beta was regulated seasonally. HDAC modulation of NF-κB-induced pathways was examined in a hypothalamic neuronal cell line and primary hypothalamic tanycytes. HDAC4/5/6 inhibition altered the control of gene expression (Fos, Prkca, Prkcd and Ptp1b) by inducers of NF-κB that activate inflammation. These inhibitors also modified the action of nuclear receptor ligands thyroid hormone and retinoic acid. Thus seasonal changes in HDAC4 and 6 have the potential to epigenetically modify multiple gene regulatory pathways in the hypothalamus that could act to limit inflammatory pathways in the hypothalamus during long-day summer-like conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)340-352
Number of pages13
JournalBrain, Behavior, and Immunity
Early online date18 Dec 2016
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding was provided by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council – United Kingdom (Grant No: BB/K001043/1).


  • histone deacetylase
  • nucleus
  • inflammatory
  • tumour necrosis factor alpha
  • lipopolysaccharide


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