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Perry Barrett, Elena Ivanova, E Scott Graham, Alexander W Ross, Dana Wilson, Helene Plé, Julian G Mercer, Francis J Ebling, Sandrine Schuhler, Sandrine M Dupré, Andrew Loudon and Peter J Morgan

Tanycytes in the ependymal layer of the third ventricle act both as a barrier and a communication gateway between the cerebrospinal fluid, brain and portal blood supply to the pituitary gland. However, the range, importance and mechanisms involved in the function of tanycytes remain to be explored. In this study, we have utilized a photoperiodic animal to examine the expression of three unrelated gene sequences in relation to photoperiod-induced changes in seasonal physiology and behaviour. We demonstrate that cellular retinoic acid-binding protein 1 (CRBP1), a retinoic acid transport protein, GPR50, an orphan G-protein-coupled receptor and nestin, an intermediate filament protein, are down-regulated in short-day photoperiods. The distribution of the three sequences is very similar, with expression located in cells with tanycyte morphology in the region of the ependymal layer where tanycytes are located. Furthermore, CRBP1 expression in the ependymal layer is shown to be independent of a circadian clock and altered testosterone levels associated with testicular regression in short photo-period. Pinealectomy of Siberian hamsters demonstrates CRBP1 expression is likely to be dependent on melatonin output from the pineal gland. This provides evidence that tanycytes are seasonally responsive cells and are likely to be an important part of the mechanism to facilitate seasonal physiology and behaviour in the Siberian hamster.

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Perry Barrett, Elena Ivanova, E Scott Graham, Alexander W Ross, Dana Wilson, Helene Plé, Julian G Mercer, Francis J Ebling, Sandrine Schuhler, Sandrine M Dupré, Andrew Loudon and Peter J Morgan