The tau mutation affects temperature compensation of hamster retinal circadian oscillators

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Abstract

Neural retinas of the golden hamster (Mesocricetus auratus) express circadian rhythms of melatonin synthesis when cultured in constant darkness. Retinas from wild-type hamsters synthesize melatonin with a period close to 24 h, while retinas obtained from hamsters homozygous for the circadian mutation tau, which shortens the free-running period of the circadian activity rhythm by 4 h, synthesize melatonin with a period close to 20 h. The retinal circadian oscillators of both wild-type and tau mutant hamsters are temperature compensated; however, temperature compensation is adversely affected by the mutation.

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