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PLoS Comput Biol. 2013;9(3):e1002986. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002986. Epub 2013 Mar 28.

A circadian clock-regulated toggle switch explains AtGRP7 and AtGRP8 oscillations in Arabidopsis thaliana.

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  • 1Condensed Matter Theory, Faculty of Physics, Bielefeld University, Bielefeld, Germany. cschmal@cebitec.uni-bielefeld.de

Abstract

The circadian clock controls many physiological processes in higher plants and causes a large fraction of the genome to be expressed with a 24h rhythm. The transcripts encoding the RNA-binding proteins AtGRP7 (Arabidopsis thaliana Glycine Rich Protein 7) and AtGRP8 oscillate with evening peaks. The circadian clock components CCA1 and LHY negatively affect AtGRP7 expression at the level of transcription. AtGRP7 and AtGRP8, in turn, negatively auto-regulate and reciprocally cross-regulate post-transcriptionally: high protein levels promote the generation of an alternative splice form that is rapidly degraded. This clock-regulated feedback loop has been proposed to act as a molecular slave oscillator in clock output. While mathematical models describing the circadian core oscillator in Arabidopsis thaliana were introduced recently, we propose here the first model of a circadian slave oscillator. We define the slave oscillator in terms of ordinary differential equations and identify the model's parameters by an optimization procedure based on experimental results. The model successfully reproduces the pertinent experimental findings such as waveforms, phases, and half-lives of the time-dependent concentrations. Furthermore, we obtain insights into possible mechanisms underlying the observed experimental dynamics: the negative auto-regulation and reciprocal cross-regulation via alternative splicing could be responsible for the sharply peaking waveforms of the AtGRP7 and AtGRP8 mRNA. Moreover, our results suggest that the AtGRP8 transcript oscillations are subordinated to those of AtGRP7 due to a higher impact of AtGRP7 protein on alternative splicing of its own and of the AtGRP8 pre-mRNA compared to the impact of AtGRP8 protein. Importantly, a bifurcation analysis provides theoretical evidence that the slave oscillator could be a toggle switch, arising from the reciprocal cross-regulation at the post-transcriptional level. In view of this, transcriptional repression of AtGRP7 and AtGRP8 by LHY and CCA1 induces oscillations of the toggle switch, leading to the observed high-amplitude oscillations of AtGRP7 mRNA.

PMID:
23555221
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3610657
Free PMC Article

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