RCAN1 Knockout and Overexpression Recapitulate an Ensemble of Rest-activity and Circadian Disruptions Characteristic of Down Syndrome, Alzheimer’s Disease, and Normative Aging Journal Article uri icon



  • Abstract; Background: Regulator of calcineurin 1 (RCAN1) is overexpressed in Down syndrome (DS), but RCAN1 levels are also increased in Alzheimer's disease (AD) and normal aging. AD is highly comorbid among individuals with DS and is characterized in part by progressive neurodegeneration that resembles accelerated aging. Importantly, abnormal RCAN1 levels have been demonstrated to promote memory deficits and pathophysiology symptomatic of DS, AD, and aging. Anomalous diurnal rest-activity patterns and circadian rhythm disruptions are also common in DS, AD, and aging and have been implicated in facilitating age-related cognitive decline and AD progression. However, no prior studies have assessed whether RCAN1 dysregulation may also promote the age-associated alteration of rest-activity profiles and circadian rhythms, which could in turn contribute to neurodegeneration in DS, AD, and aging. Methods: The present study examined the impacts of RCAN1 deficiency and overexpression on the photic entrainment, circadian periodicity, intensity and distribution, diurnal patterning, and circadian rhythmicity of wheel running in young (3-6 months old) and aged (9-14 months old) mice. All data were initially analyzed by multifactorial ANOVA with variables of genotype, age, treatment, and sex considered as dependent variables.Results: We found that daily RCAN1 levels in the hippocampi of light-entrained young mice are generally constant and that balanced RCAN1 expression is necessary for normal circadian locomotor activity rhythms. While the light-entrained diurnal period was unaltered, RCAN1-null and -overexpressing mice displayed lengthened endogenous (free-running) circadian periods like mouse models of AD and aging. In light-entrained young mice, RCAN1 knockout and overexpression also recapitulated the general hypoactivity, diurnal rest-wake pattern fragmentation, and attenuated amplitudes of circadian activity rhythms reported in DS, preclinical and clinical AD, healthily aging individuals, and rodent models thereof. Under constant darkness, RCAN1-null and -overexpressing mice displayed altered locomotor behavior indicating circadian clock dysfunction. Using the Dp(16)1Yey/+ (Dp16) mouse model for DS, which expresses three copies of Rcan1, we found reduced wheel running activity and rhythmicity in both light-entrained and free-running young Dp16 mice like young RCAN1-overexpressing mice. Critically, these diurnal and circadian deficits were rescued in part or entirely by restoring Rcan1 to two copies in Dp16 mice. Conclusions: Collectively, this study's findings suggest that both loss and aberrant gain of RCAN1 precipitate anomalous light-entrained diurnal and circadian activity patterns emblematic of DS, AD, and aging.

publication date

  • November 10, 2021

has restriction

  • green

Date in CU Experts

  • November 23, 2021 4:09 AM

Full Author List

  • Wong H; Buck JM; Borski C; Pafford J; Keller BN; Stitzel JA; Hoeffer CA

author count

  • 7

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