Characterization of Basal Gene Expression Trends over a Diurnal Cycle in Xiphophorus maculatus Skin, Brain and Liver
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Evolutionarily conserved diurnal circadian mechanisms maintain oscillating patterns of gene expression based on the day-night cycle. Xiphophorus fish have been used to evaluate transcriptional responses after exposure to various light sources and it was determined that each source incites distinct genetic responses in skin tissue. However, basal expression levels of genes that show oscillating expression patterns in day-night cycle, may affect the outcomes of such experiments, since basal gene expression levels at each point in the circadian path may influence the profile of identified light responsive genes. Lack of knowledge regarding diurnal fluctuations in basal gene expression patterns may confound the understanding of genetic responses to external stimuli (e.g., light) since the dynamic nature of gene expression implies animals subjected to stimuli at different times may be at very different stages within the continuum of genetic homeostasis. We assessed basal gene expression changes over a 24-hour period in 200 select Xiphophorus gene targets known to transcriptionally respond to various types of light exposure. We identified 22 genes in skin, 36 genes in brain and 28 genes in liver that exhibit basal oscillation of expression patterns. These genes, including known circadian regulators, produced the expected expression patterns over a 24-hour cycle when compared to circadian regulatory genes identified in other species, especially human and other vertebrate animal models. Our results suggest the regulatory network governing diurnal oscillating gene expression is similar between Xiphophorus and other vertebrates for the three Xiphophorus organs tested. In addition, we were able to categorize light responsive gene sets in Xiphophorus that do, and do not, exhibit circadian based oscillating expression patterns.