A circadian clock in the olfactory bulb controls olfactory responsivity.


Recently, it has been shown that multiple mammalian cell types express daily rhythms in vitro. Although the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) of the hypothalamus is known to regulate a wide range of circadian behaviors, the role for intrinsic rhythmicity in other tissues is unknown. We tested whether the main olfactory bulb (OB) of mice mediates daily changes in olfaction. We found circadian rhythms in cedar oil-induced c-Fos, a protein marker of cellular excitation, in the mitral and granular layers of the OB and in the piriform cortex (PC). These oscillations persisted in constant darkness with a fourfold change in amplitude and a peak approximately 4 h after the onset of daily locomotor activity. Electrolytic lesions of the SCN abolished circadian locomotor rhythms, but not odor-induced c-Fos rhythms in the OB or PC. Furthermore, removal of the OB abolished spontaneous circadian cycling of c-Fos in the PC, shortened the free-running period of locomotor rhythms, and accelerated re-entrainment after a 6 h advance and slowed re-entrainment after a 6 h delay in the light schedule. OB ablation or odorant altered the amplitude of c-Fos rhythms in the SCN and ablation of one OB abolished c-Fos rhythms in the ipsilateral PC, but not in the contralateral OB and PC. We conclude that the OB comprises a master circadian pacemaker, which enhances olfactory responsivity each night, drives rhythms in the PC, and interacts with the SCN to coordinate other daily behaviors.


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