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Biological Sex Influences Daily Locomotor Rhythms in Mice Held Under Different Housing Conditions.

Daily rhythms are programmed by a central circadian clock that is modulated by photoperiod. Here, we recorded locomotor activity rhythms in C57Bl/6 or mPer2Luc mice of both sexes held under different housing conditions. First, we confirm that the structure of locomotor activity rhythms differs between male and female mice in both genetic backgrounds. Male mice exhibit a nightly "siesta," whereas female mice fluctuate between nights with and without a nightly siesta, which corresponds with changes in locomotor activity levels, circadian period, and vaginal cytology. The nightly siesta is modulated by the presence of a running wheel in both sexes but is not required for the infradian patterning of locomotor rhythms in females. Finally, photoperiodic changes in locomotor rhythms differed by sex, and females displayed phase-jumping responses earlier than males under a parametric photoentrainment assay simulating increasing day length. Collectively, these results highlight that sex and sex hormones influence daily locomotor rhythms under a variety of different environmental conditions.

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