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J Biol Chem. 2012 Jan 27;287(5):3241-8. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M111.265777. Epub 2011 Dec 6.

Fluorescence correlation spectroscopy to monitor Kai protein-based circadian oscillations in real time.

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Medical Technology Research and Development Division, Advanced Analysis Technology Research and Development Department, Olympus Corporation, Tokyo 192-0904, Japan.


Dynamic protein-protein interactions play an essential role in cellular regulatory systems. The cyanobacterial circadian clock is an oscillatory system that can be reconstituted in vitro by mixing ATP and three clock proteins: KaiA, KaiB, and KaiC. Association and dissociation of KaiB from KaiC-containing complexes are critical to circadian phosphorylation and dephosphorylation of KaiC. We developed an automated and noninvasive method to monitor dynamic complex formation in real time using confocal fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS) and uniformly labeled KaiB as a probe. A nanomolar concentration of the labeled KaiB for FCS measurement did not interfere with the oscillatory system but behaved similarly to the wild-type one during the measurement period (>5 days). The fluorescent probe was stable against repeated laser exposure. As an application, we show that this detection system allowed analysis of the dynamics of both long term circadian oscillations and short term responses to temperature changes (∼10 min) in the same sample. This suggested that a phase shift of the clock with a high temperature pulse occurred just after the stimulus through dissociation of KaiB from the KaiC complex. This monitoring method should improve our understanding of the mechanisms underlying this cellular circadian oscillator and provide a means to assess dynamic protein interactions in biological systems characterized by rates similar to those observed with the Kai proteins.

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