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Genes Dev. 2011 Nov 15;25(22):2374-86. doi: 10.1101/gad.174110.111.

Drosophila CLOCK target gene characterization: implications for circadian tissue-specific gene expression.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, National Center for Behavioral Genomics, Department of Biology, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts 02454, USA.


CLOCK (CLK) is a master transcriptional regulator of the circadian clock in Drosophila. To identify CLK direct target genes and address circadian transcriptional regulation in Drosophila, we performed chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) tiling array assays (ChIP-chip) with a number of circadian proteins. CLK binding cycles on at least 800 sites with maximal binding in the early night. The CLK partner protein CYCLE (CYC) is on most of these sites. The CLK/CYC heterodimer is joined 4-6 h later by the transcriptional repressor PERIOD (PER), indicating that the majority of CLK targets are regulated similarly to core circadian genes. About 30% of target genes also show cycling RNA polymerase II (Pol II) binding. Many of these generate cycling RNAs despite not being documented in prior RNA cycling studies. This is due in part to different RNA isoforms and to fly head tissue heterogeneity. CLK has specific targets in different tissues, implying that important CLK partner proteins and/or mechanisms contribute to gene-specific and tissue-specific regulation.

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