Cell-autonomous feedback loops underlie the molecular oscillations that define circadian clocks. In Drosophila the transcription factor Clk activates multiple clock components of feedback loops many of which feed back and regulate Clk expression or activity. Previously the authors evoked similar molecular oscillations in putatively na?»ve neurons in Drosophila by ectopic expression of a single gene, Clk, suggesting a master regulator function. Using molecular oscillations of the core clock component PERIOD (PER), the authors observed dramatic and widespread molecular oscillations throughout the brain in flies expressing ectopic Clk. Consistent with the master regulator hypothesis, they found that Clk is uniquely capable of inducing ectopic clocks as ectopic induction of other clock components fails to induce circadian rhythms. Clk also induces oscillations even when expression is adult restricted, suggesting that ectopic clocks can even be induced in differentiated cells. However, if transgene expression is discontinued, PER expression disappears, indicating that Clk must be continually active to sustain ectopic clock function. In some cases Clk-mediated PER induction was observed without apparent synchronous cycling, perhaps due to desynchronization of rhythms between clocks or truly cell autonomous arrhythmic PER expression, indicating that additional factors may be necessary for coherent rhythms in cells ectopically expressing Clk. To determine minimal requirements for circadian clock induction by Clk, the authors determined the genetic requirements of ectopic clocks. No ectopic clocks are induced in mutants of Clkg-s heterodimeric partner cyc. In addition, noncycling PER is observed when ectopic Clk is induced in a cryb mutant background. While other factors may contribute, these results indicate that persistent Clock induction is uniquely capable of broadly inducing ectopic rhythms even in adults, consistent with a special role at the top of a clock gene hierarchy.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physiology (medical)