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The suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) is a complex structure dependent upon multiple mechanisms to ensure rhythmic electrical activity that varies between day and night, to determine circadian adaptation and behaviours. SCN neurons are exposed to glutamate from multiple sources including from the retino-hypothalamic tract and from astrocytes. However, the mechanism preventing inappropriate post-synaptic glutamatergic effects is unexplored and unknown. Unexpectedly we discovered that TRESK, a calcium regulated two-pore potassium channel, plays a crucial role in this system. We propose that glutamate activates TRESK through NMDA and AMPA mediated calcium influx and calcineurin activation to then oppose further membrane depolarisation and rising intracellular calcium. Hence, in the absence of TRESK, glutamatergic activity is unregulated leading to membrane depolarisation, increased nocturnal SCN firing, inverted basal calcium levels and impaired sensitivity in light induced phase delays. Our data reveals TRESK plays an essential part in SCN regulatory mechanisms and light induced adaptive behaviours.

Original publication




Journal article


Nat Commun

Publication Date





Adaptation, Ocular, Animals, Behavior, Animal, Calcium, Darkness, Glutamic Acid, Light, Membrane Potentials, Mice, Inbred C57BL, Potassium Channels, Signal Transduction, Suprachiasmatic Nucleus