Research Article

Neurospora wc-1 and wc-2: Transcription, Photoresponses, and the Origins of Circadian Rhythmicity

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Science  02 May 1997:
Vol. 276, Issue 5313, pp. 763-769
DOI: 10.1126/science.276.5313.763

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Circadian rhythmicity is universally associated with the ability to perceive light, and the oscillators (“clocks”) giving rise to these rhythms, which are feedback loops based on transcription and translation, are reset by light. Although such loops must contain elements of positive and negative regulation, the clock genes analyzed to date—frq in Neurospora andper and tim in Drosophila—are associated only with negative feedback and their biochemical functions are largely inferred. The white collar–1 and white collar–2 genes, both global regulators of photoresponses inNeurospora, encode DNA binding proteins that contain PAS domains and are believed to act as transcriptional activators. Data shown here suggest that wc-1 is a clock-associated gene andwc-2 is a clock component; both play essential roles in the assembly or operation of the Neurospora circadian oscillator. Thus DNA binding and transcriptional activation can now be associated with a clock gene that may provide a positive element in the feedback loop. In addition, similarities between the PAS-domain regions of molecules involved in light perception and circadian rhythmicity in several organisms suggest an evolutionary link between ancient photoreceptor proteins and more modern proteins required for circadian oscillation.

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