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PURPOSE - To test whether Müller glia of the mammalian retina have circadian rhythms.
METHODS - We used Müller glia cultures isolated from mouse lines or from humans and bioluminescent reporters of circadian clock genes to monitor molecular circadian rhythms. The clock gene dependence of the Müller cell rhythms was tested using clock gene knockout mouse lines or with siRNA for specific clock genes.
RESULTS - We demonstrated that retinal Müller glia express canonical circadian clock genes, are capable of sustained circadian oscillations in isolation from other cell types, and exhibit unique features of their molecular circadian clock compared to the retina as a whole. Mouse and human Müller cells demonstrated circadian clock function; however, they exhibited species-specific differences in the gene dependence of their clocks.
CONCLUSIONS - Müller cells are the first mammalian retinal cell type in which sustained circadian rhythms have been demonstrated in isolation from other retinal cells.