Seminar, 22 November 2012, C. Bodenstein

22 November 2012, 16:15
Ernst-Abbe-Platz 2, seminar room 3423

Suprachiasmatic nucleus network topology and dynamic properties of the mammalian circadian clock

Christian Bodenstein (Dept. of Bioinformatics, Friedrich Schiller University Jena)

The dynamics of circadian rhythms needs to be adapted to day length changes between summer and winter. It has been observed experimentally, however, that the dynamics of individual neurons of the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) does not change as the seasons change. Rather, the seasonal adaptation of the circadian clock is hypothesized to be a consequence of changes in the intercellular dynamics, which leads to a phase distribution of electrical activity of SCN neurons that is narrower in winter and broader during summer. Yet to understand this complex intercellular dynamics, a more thorough understanding of the impact of the network structure formed by the SCN neurons is needed. To that effect, we propose a mathematical model for the dynamics of the SCN neuronal architecture in which the structure of the network plays a pivotal role. Using our model we show that the fraction of long-range cell-to-cell connections and the seasonal changes in the daily rhythms may be tightly related. In particular, simulations of the proposed mathematical model indicate that the fraction of long-range connections between the cells adjusts the phase distribution and consequently the length of the behavioral activity as follows: dense long-range connections during winter lead to a narrow activity phase, while rare long-range connections during summer lead to a broad activity phase. Our model is also able to account for the experimental observations indicating a larger light-induced phase-shift of the circadian clock during winter, which we show to be a consequence of higher synchronization between neurons. Our model thus provides evidence that the variations in the seasonal dynamics of circadian clocks can in part also be understood and regulated by the plasticity of the SCN network structure.