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J Biol Rhythms. 2009 Aug;24(4):295-303. doi: 10.1177/0748730409338367.

Metabolic rhythms of the cyanobacterium Cyanothece sp. ATCC 51142 correlate with modeled dynamics of circadian clock.

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Institute of Systems Biology and Ecology, Academy of Sciences CR, Nové Hrady, Czech Republic.


These experiments aim to reveal the dynamic features that occur during the metabolism of the unicellular, nitrogen fixing cyanobacterium Cyanothece sp. when exposed to diverse circadian forcing patterns (LD 16:8, LD 12:12, LD 8:16, LD 6:6). The chlorophyll concentration grew rapidly from subjective morning when first illuminated to around noon, then remained stable from later in the afternoon and throughout the night. The optical density measured at 735 nm was stable during the morning chlorophyll accumulation, then increased in the early afternoon toward a peak, followed at dusk by a rapid decline toward the late night steady state. The authors propose that these dynamics largely reflect accumulation and subsequent consumption of glycogen granules. This hypothesis is consistent with the sharp peak of respiration that coincides with the putative hydrocarbon catabolism. In the long-day regimen (LD 16:8), these events may mark the transition from the aerobic photosynthetic metabolism to microaerobic nitrogen metabolism that occurs at dusk, and thus cannot be triggered by the darkness that comes later. Rather, control is likely to originate in the circadian clock signaling an approaching night. To explore the dynamics of the link between respiration and circadian oscillations, the authors extrapolated an earlier model of the KaiABC oscillator from Synechococcus elongatus to Cyanothece sp. The measured peak of respiratory activity at dusk correlated strongly in its timing and time width with the modeled peak in accumulation of the KaiB(4) complex, which marks the late afternoon phase of the circadian clock. The authors propose a hypothesis that high levels of KaiB(4) (or of its Cyanothece sp. analog) trigger the glycogen catabolism that is reflected in the experiments in the respiratory peak. The degree of the correlation between the modeled KaiB(4) dynamics and the dynamics of experimentally measured peaks of respiratory activity was further tested during the half-circadian regimen (LD 6:6). The model predicted an irregular pattern of the KaiABC oscillator, quite unlike mechanical or electrical clock pacemakers that are strongly damped when driven at double their endogenous frequency. This highly unusual dynamic pattern was confirmed experimentally, supporting strongly the validity of the circadian model and of the proposed direct link to respiration.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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