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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1988 Feb;85(4):1096-100.

On the role of protein synthesis in the circadian clock of Neurospora crassa.

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Department of Biology, University of California, Santa Cruz 95064.


Inhibitors of protein synthesis reset the biological clocks of many organisms. This has been interpreted to mean either that the synthesis per se of proteins is a step in the oscillatory feedback loop or merely that certain unstable protein(s) are required at certain times of the cycle to complete the feedback loop. We report here that Neurospora strains bearing the clock mutation frq-7 are relatively insensitive to the resetting action of the protein-synthesis-inhibitor cycloheximide. Protein synthesis itself in this mutant is inhibited by the drug to the same extent as in wild type. Since the clock of frq-7 continues to run relatively unimpeded even in the virtual absence of protein synthesis, it is unlikely that synthesis per se can be a part of the feedback cycle. Rather, we suggest that for normal operation of the Neurospora clock, certain protein(s) with a high turnover rate are required daily and, thus, must be resynthesized each day (at least) during discrete times in the cycle. The frq-7 mutation simultaneously alters several distinct clock characteristics--period length, temperature compensation, and resetting by cycloheximide. A model is presented to unify these observations.

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