Research Article

Structural basis of the day-night transition in a bacterial circadian clock

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Science  17 Mar 2017:
Vol. 355, Issue 6330, pp. 1174-1180
DOI: 10.1126/science.aag2516

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Molecular clockwork from cyanobacteria

The cyanobacterial circadian clock oscillator can be reconstituted in a test tube from just three proteins—KaiA, KaiB, and KaiC—and adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Tseng et al. studied crystal and nuclear magnetic resonance structures of complexes of the oscillator proteins and their signaling output proteins and tested the in vivo effects of structure-based mutants. Large conformational changes in KaiB and ATP hydrolysis by KaiC are coordinated with binding to output protein, which couples signaling and the day-night transitions of the clock. Snijder et al. provide complementary analysis of the oscillator proteins by mass spectrometry and cryo–electron microscopy. Their results help to explain the structural basis for the dynamic assembly of the oscillator complexes.

Science, this issue p. 1174, p. 1181

Abstract

Circadian clocks are ubiquitous timing systems that induce rhythms of biological activities in synchrony with night and day. In cyanobacteria, timing is generated by a posttranslational clock consisting of KaiA, KaiB, and KaiC proteins and a set of output signaling proteins, SasA and CikA, which transduce this rhythm to control gene expression. Here, we describe crystal and nuclear magnetic resonance structures of KaiB-KaiC,KaiA-KaiB-KaiC, and CikA-KaiB complexes. They reveal how the metamorphic properties of KaiB, a protein that adopts two distinct folds, and the post–adenosine triphosphate hydrolysis state of KaiC create a hub around which nighttime signaling events revolve, including inactivation of KaiA and reciprocal regulation of the mutually antagonistic signaling proteins, SasA and CikA.

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