Cellular Function and Localization of Circadian Clock Proteins in Cyanobacteria
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The cyanobacterium Synechococcus elongatus builds a circadian clock on an oscillator comprised of three proteins, KaiA, KaiB, and KaiC, which can recapitulate a circadian rhythm of KaiC phosphorylation in vitro. The molecular structures of all three proteins are known, and the phosphorylation steps of KaiC, the interaction dynamics among the three Kai proteins, and a weak ATPase activity of KaiC have all been characterized. A mutant of a clock gene in the input pathway, cikA, has a cell division defect, and the circadian clock inhibits the cell cycle for a short period of time during each cycle. However, the interaction between the circadian cycle and the cell cycle and the molecular mechanisms underlying it have been poorly understood. In addition, the subcellular localization of clock proteins and possible localization dynamics, which are critical in the timing circuit of eukaryotic clock systems and might also shed light on the interaction between circadian cycle and cell cycle, have remained largely unknown. A combination of genetics, cell biology, and microscopy techniques has been employed to investigate both questions. This work showed that the cell division defect of a cikA mutant is a function of the circadian clock. High ATPase activity of KaiC coincides with the inhibition of cytokinesis by the circadian clock. CikA likely represses KaiC's ATPase activity through an unknown protein, which in cikA's absence stimulates both the ATPase and autokinase activities independently of KaiA or KaiB. SasA-RpaA acts as an output in the control of cell division, and the localization of FtsZ is the target, although it still remains to be seen how RpaA, directly or indirectly, inhibits FtsZ localization. The project also showed that clock proteins are localized to the cell poles. KaiC is targeted to the cell pole in a phosphorylation-dependent manner. KaiB and CikA are also found at the poles independently of KaiC. KaiA likely only localizes to the cell pole during the dephosphorylation phase, which is dependent on both KaiB and KaiC, specifically on the phosphorylation of KaiC at S431. Overall, significant progress was made in both areas and this project sheds light on how the circadian oscillator operates in cyanobacterial cells and interacts with another fundamental cellular function.
Dong, Guogang (2008). Cellular Function and Localization of Circadian Clock Proteins in Cyanobacteria. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from