Using genetic mouse models, we found that the circadian clock within keratinocytes is required for the time-of- day dependent variation in interfollicular epidermal cell proliferation, which seems to be coordinated with circadian clock-regulated metabolism. Thus, we find that the expression of genes involved in oxidative phosphorylation and reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels are antiphasic to S-phase, and that the circadian variation in ROS levels depends on core clock regulator BMAL1. Furthermore, we found that mice are more sensitive to UVB-induced DNA epidermal damage during the night (when the highest numbers of epidermal cells go through S-phase) than the day. Based on this work we propose this central hypothesis: The circadian clock coordinates the timing of metabolism and cell proliferation in the epidermis, imposing separation between the times of maximum ROS generation and S-phase. While this temporal regulatory arrangement minimizes DNA mutations from endogenous ROS, it causes circadian variation in the sensitivity to UVR-mediated DNA damage in the epidermis. The implication is that diurnal humans may be especially sensitive to UVR-mediated DNA damage during the day, the time of maximum UV exposure. We plan to pursue these ideas in three Specific Aims: (1) To understand the relationships between the circadian clock, metabolism, and cell proliferation at a single cell resolution in the interfollicular epidermis. We will map the cell cycle stage controlled by BMAL1 and use innovative imaging methods to define the relationship between clock output, metabolism, and cell cycle progression at a single cell level within the basal cell layer of the epidermis. We will also test the hypothesis that different feeding schedules can change timing of metabolism and cell proliferation in the epidermis. (2) To identify time-of-day dependent BMAL1 target genes in the interfollicular epidermis. We will use chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing (ChIP-seq) and chromosome conformation capture (3C) assays to test the hypothesis that BMAL1 directly and indirectly regulates key metabolism and cell cycle genes within the living epidermis. (3) To determine whether core circadian clock genes are required for time-of-day dependent differences in UVR-induced skin carcinogenesis. We will characterize the role of the central clock regulators in the UVB DNA damage response in human keratinocytes and take advantage of a UV-induced mouse carcinogenesis model to test the hypothesis that time-of-day-dependent variation in skin carcinogenesis depends on circadian clock mechanisms. The work is significant because it reveals the relationship between the clock, metabolism, cell proliferation and cancer in a rapidly proliferating epithelium, because it suggests that circadian regulation may contribute to the high incidence of skin cancer in humans, and because it may ultimately lead to ideas about how metabolism can be modulated in proliferating epithelia to decrease carcinogenesis and tissue aging. The work is innovative because it suggests a new role for the circadian clock in imposing temporal separation of metabolism and DNA synthesis in epidermal progenitors.
This project focuses on how the circadian clock modulates physiological processes in the skin, including metabolism and cell proliferation. The work may lead to insights into how rapidly proliferating epithelia minimize ROS-mediated mutations;it has relevance to diseases associated with DNA damage such as skin cancer and skin aging. Furthermore, the work may contribute to the foundation for potential chronotherapy in skin diseases.
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