A Magnesium Transport Protein Related to Mammalian SLC41 and Bacterial MgtE Contributes to Circadian Timekeeping in a Unicellular Green Alga
School of Biological Sciences, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH9 3BF, UK
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Genes 2019, 10(2), 158; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes10020158
Received: 7 January 2019 / Revised: 29 January 2019 / Accepted: 12 February 2019 / Published: 19 February 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genetic Regulation of Circadian Rhythm in Plants)
Circadian clocks in eukaryotes involve both transcriptional-translational feedback loops, post-translational regulation, and metabolic, non-transcriptional oscillations. We recently identified the involvement of circadian oscillations in the intracellular concentrations of magnesium ions ([Mg2+]i) that were conserved in three eukaryotic kingdoms. [Mg2+]i in turn contributes to transcriptional clock properties of period and amplitude, and can function as a zeitgeber to define phase. However, the mechanism—or mechanisms—responsible for the generation of [Mg2+]i oscillations, and whether these are functionally conserved across taxonomic groups, remain elusive. We employed the cellular clock model Ostreococcus tauri to provide a first study of an MgtE domain-containing protein in the green lineage. OtMgtE shares homology with the mammalian SLC41A1 magnesium/sodium antiporter, which has previously been implicated in maintaining clock period. Using genetic overexpression, we found that OtMgtE contributes to both timekeeping and daily changes in [Mg2+]i. However, pharmacological experiments and protein sequence analyses indicated that critical differences exist between OtMgtE and either the ancestral MgtE channel or the mammalian SLC41 antiporters. We concluded that even though MgtE domain-containing proteins are only distantly related, these proteins retain a shared role in contributing to cellular timekeeping and the regulation of [Mg2+]i.