Daily oscillations of gene expression underlie circadian behaviours in multicellular organisms. While attention has been focused on transcriptional and post-translational mechanisms, other post-transcriptional modes have been less clearly delineated. Here we report mutants of a novel Drosophila gene twenty-four (tyf) that show weak behavioural rhythms. Weak rhythms are accompanied by marked reductions in the levels of the clock protein Period (PER) as well as more modest effects on Timeless (TIM). Nonetheless, PER induction in pacemaker neurons can rescue tyf mutant rhythms. TYF associates with a 5′-cap-binding complex, poly(A)-binding protein (PABP), as well as per and tim transcripts. Furthermore, TYF activates reporter expression when tethered to reporter messenger RNA even in vitro. Taken together, these data indicate that TYF potently activates PER translation in pacemaker neurons to sustain robust rhythms, revealing a new and important role for translational control in the Drosophila circadian clock.
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