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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2000 Jan 4;97(1):234-9.

Phosphorylation of the Neurospora clock protein FREQUENCY determines its degradation rate and strongly influences the period length of the circadian clock.

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Department of Genetics, Dartmouth Medical School, Hanover, NH 03755, USA.


Under free running conditions, FREQUENCY (FRQ) protein, a central component of the Neurospora circadian clock, is progressively phosphorylated, becoming highly phosphorylated before its degradation late in the circadian day. To understand the biological function of FRQ phosphorylation, kinase inhibitors were used to block FRQ phosphorylation in vivo and the effects on FRQ and the clock observed. 6-dimethylaminopurine (a general kinase inhibitor) is able to block FRQ phosphorylation in vivo, reducing the rate of phosphorylation and the degradation of FRQ and lengthening the period of the clock in a dose-dependent manner. To confirm the role of FRQ phosphorylation in this clock effect, phosphorylation sites in FRQ were identified by systematic mutagenesis of the FRQ ORF. The mutation of one phosphorylation site at Ser-513 leads to a dramatic reduction of the rate of FRQ degradation and a very long period (>30 hr) of the clock. Taken together, these data strongly suggest that FRQ phosphorylation triggers its degradation, and the degradation rate of FRQ is a major determining factor for the period length of the Neurospora circadian clock.

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