The zebrafish (Danio rerio) is a model species that is used to study the circadian clock. It possesses light-entrainable circadian clocks in both central and peripheral tissues, and its core circadian factor cryptochromes (CRYs) have diverged significantly during evolution. In order to elucidate the functional diversity and involvement of CRYs in photoperiodic mechanisms, we investigated the daily expression profiles of six Cry transcripts in central (brain and eye) and peripheral (fin, skin and muscle) tissues. The zCry genes exhibited gene-specific diurnal conserved variations, and were divided into morning and evening groups. Notably, zCry1ab exhibited biphasic expression profiles in the eye, with peaks in the morning and evening. Comparing ocular zCry1ab expression in different photoperiods (18L:6D, 14L:10D, 10L:14D and 6L:18D) revealed that zCry1ab expression duration changed depending on the photoperiod: it increased at midnight and peaked before lights off. zCry1ab expression in constant light or dark after entrainment under long- or short-day conditions suggested that the evening clock and photic input pathway are involved in photoperiod-dependent zCry1ab expression. Laser microdissection followed by qRT-PCR analysis showed that the evening peak of zCry1ab was likely ascribed to visual photoreceptors. These results suggest the presence of an eye-specific photoperiodic time measurement served by zCry1ab.
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