Blue light, a key abiotic signal, regulates a wide variety of physiological processes in many organisms. One of these phenomena is the circadian rhythm presents in organisms sensitive to the phase-setting effects of blue light and under control of the daily alternation of light and dark. Circadian clocks consist of autoregulatory alternating negative and positive feedback loops intimately connected with the cellular metabolism and biochemical processes. Neurospora crassa
provides an excellent model for studying the molecular mechanisms involved in these phenomena. The White Collar Complex (WCC), a blue-light receptor and transcription factor of the circadian oscillator, and Frequency (FRQ), the circadian clock pacemaker, are at the core of the Neurospora
circadian system. The eukaryotic circadian clock relies on transcriptional/translational feedback loops: some proteins rhythmically repress their own synthesis by inhibiting the activity of their transcriptional factors, generating self-sustained oscillations over a period of about 24 h. One of the basic mechanisms that perpetuate self-sustained oscillations is post translation modification (PTM). The acronym PTM generically indicates the addition of acetyl, methyl, sumoyl, or phosphoric groups to various types of proteins. The protein can be regulatory or enzymatic or a component of the chromatin. PTMs influence protein stability, interaction, localization, activity, and chromatin packaging. Chromatin modification and PTMs have been implicated in regulating circadian clock function in Neurospora
. Research into the epigenetic control of transcription factors such as WCC has yielded new insights into the temporal modulation of light-dependent gene transcription. Here we report on epigenetic and protein PTMs in the regulation of the Neurospora crassa
circadian clock. We also present a model that illustrates the molecular mechanisms at the basis of the blue light control of the circadian clock.
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