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Cell. 2006 May 5;125(3):497-508.

Circadian regulator CLOCK is a histone acetyltransferase.

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Institut de Génétique et de Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire, B.P. 10142, 67404 Illkirch, Strasbourg, France.


The molecular machinery that governs circadian rhythmicity comprises proteins whose interplay generates time-specific transcription of clock genes. The role of chromatin remodeling in a physiological setting such as the circadian clock is yet unclear. We show that the protein CLOCK, a central component of the circadian pacemaker, has histone acetyltransferase (HAT) activity. CLOCK shares homology with acetyl-coenzyme A binding motifs within the MYST family of HATs. CLOCK displays high sequence similarity to ACTR, a member of SRC family of HATs, with which it shares also enzymatic specificity for histones H3 and H4. BMAL1, the heterodimerization partner of CLOCK, enhances HAT function. The HAT activity of CLOCK is essential to rescue circadian rhythmicity and activation of clock genes in Clock mutant cells. Identification of CLOCK as a novel type of DNA binding HAT reveals that chromatin remodeling is crucial for the core clock mechanism and identifies unforeseen links between histone acetylation and cellular physiology.

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