Editors' ChoiceCircadian Biology

Daylight Determines Dopamine

Science Signaling  30 Apr 2013:
Vol. 6, Issue 273, pp. ec95
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2004276

Expression of the appropriate neurotransmitters is essential for the function of neural circuits. Can neurons change their transmitter phenotype to deal with alterations in the environment? Dulcis et al. (see the Perspective by Birren and Marder) exposed adult rats to different photoperiods mimicking summer and winter daylengths. Neurotransmitter expression switched between dopamine and somatostatin in hypothalamic neurons that regulate release of corticotropin-releasing factor. Transmitter switching occurred at the transcriptional level and was accompanied by changes in postsynaptic receptors.

D. Dulcis, P. Jamshidi, S. Leutgeb, N. C. Spitzer, Neurotransmitter switching in the adult brain regulates behavior. Science 340, 449–453 (2013). [Abstract] [Full Text]

S. J. Birren, E. Marder, Plasticity in the neurotransmitter repertoire. Science 340, 436–437 (2013). [Abstract] [Full Text]