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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1993 Jun 15; 90(12): 5672–5676.

Circadian rhythms in prokaryotes: luciferase as a reporter of circadian gene expression in cyanobacteria.


We have used a luciferase reporter gene and continuous automated monitoring of bioluminescence to demonstrate unequivocally that cyanobacteria exhibit circadian behaviors that are fundamentally the same as circadian rhythms of eukaryotes. We also show that these rhythms can be studied by molecular methods in Synechococcus sp. PCC7942, a strain for which genetic transformation is well established. A promoterless segment of the Vibrio harveyi luciferase structural genes (luxAB) was introduced downstream of the promoter for the Synechococcus psbAI gene, which encodes a photosystem II protein. This reporter construction was recombined into the Synechococcus chromosome, and bioluminescence was monitored under conditions of constant illumination following entrainment to light and dark cycles. The reporter strain, AMC149, expressed a rhythm of bioluminescence which satisfies the criteria of circadian rhythms: persistence in constant conditions, phase resetting by light/dark signals, and temperature compensation of the period. Rhythmic changes in levels of the native psbAI message following light/dark entrainment supported the reporter data. The behavior of this prokaryote disproves the dogma that circadian mechanisms must be based on eukaryotic cellular organization. Moreover, the cyanobacterial strain described here provides an efficient experimental system for molecular analysis of the circadian clock.

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Selected References

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