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Genes Dev. 2007 Dec 15;21(24):3283-95.

Protein kinase A and casein kinases mediate sequential phosphorylation events in the circadian negative feedback loop.

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  • 1Department of Physiology, The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas 75390, USA;


Regulation of circadian clock components by phosphorylation plays essential roles in clock functions and is conserved from fungi to mammals. In the Neurospora circadian negative feedback loop, FREQUENCY (FRQ) protein inhibits WHITE COLLAR (WC) complex activity by recruiting the casein kinases CKI and CKII to phosphorylate the WC proteins, resulting in the repression of frq transcription. On the other hand, CKI and CKII progressively phosphorylate FRQ to promote FRQ degradation, a process that is a major determinant of circadian period length. Here, by using whole-cell isotope labeling and quantitative mass spectrometry methods, we show that the WC-1 phosphorylation events critical for the negative feedback process occur sequentially-first by a priming kinase, then by the FRQ-recruited casein kinases. We further show that the cyclic AMP-dependent protein kinase A (PKA) is essential for clock function and inhibits WC activity by serving as a priming kinase for the casein kinases. In addition, PKA also regulates FRQ phosphorylation, but unlike CKI and CKII, PKA stabilizes FRQ, similar to the stabilization of human PERIOD2 (hPER2) due to the phosphorylation at the familial advanced sleep phase syndrome (FASPS) site. Thus, PKA is a key clock component that regulates several critical processes in the circadian negative feedback loop.

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