Ovarian hormones induce de novo DNA methyltransferase expression in the Siberian hamster suprachiasmatic nucleus

Chris S. Coyle, Federico Caso, Elisabetta Tolla, Perry Barrett, Kenneth G. Onishi, Javier A. Tello, Tyler John Stevenson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Present study investigated neuroanatomically localized changes in de novo DNA methyltransferase expression in the female Siberian hamster (Phodopus sungorus). The objectives were to identify the neuroendocrine substrates that exhibit rhythmic Dnmt3a and Dnmt3b expression across the oestrous cycle and examine the role of ovarian steroids. Hypothalamic Dnmt3a expression was observed to significantly increase during the transition from proestrous to oestrous. A single bolus injection of diethylstilbestrol (DES) and progesterone was sufficient to increase Dnmt3a cell numbers and Dnmt3b immunoreactive intensity in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). In vitro analyses using an embryonic rodent cell line revealed that DES was sufficient to induce Dnmt3b expression. Upregulating DNA methylation in vitro reduced expression of vasoactive intestinal polypeptide, Vip, and the circadian clock gene, Bmal1. Together, these data indicate that ovarian steroids drive de novo DNA methyltransferase expression in the mammalian suprachiasmatic nucleus and increased methylation may regulate genes involved in the circadian timing of oestrous: Vip and Bmal1. Overall, epigenetically mediated neuroendocrine reproductive events may reflect an evolutionarily ancient process involved in the timing of female fertility.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12819
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neuroendocrinology
Issue number2
Early online date4 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020

Bibliographical note

Brian Prendergast is thanked for helpful comments on a previous version of the manuscript. We thank Eloise Lynch, Dr Sue Barr, Lindsey Duguid, Ana Monteiro and Lynn Stevenson for expert technical assistance. TJS thanks the British Society for Neuroendocrinology and the Society for Reproduction and Fertility for research project funds. PB acknowledges the Scottish Government for funding. The data that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.


  • circadian
  • neuroendocrine
  • oestrogen
  • rhythmic epigenetics


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