In mammals, cellular circadian rhythms are generated by a transcriptional-translational autoregulatory network that consists of clock genes that encode transcriptional regulators. Of these clock genes, Period1 (Per1) and Period2 (Per2) are essential for sustainable circadian rhythmicity and photic entrainment. Intriguingly, Per1 and Per2 mRNAs exhibit circadian oscillations with a 4-hour phase difference, but they are similarly transactivated by CLOCK-BMAL1. In this study, we investigated the mechanism underlying the phase difference between Per1 and Per2 through a combination of mathematical simulations and molecular experiments. Mathematical analyses of a model for the mammalian circadian oscillator demonstrated that the slow synthesis and fast degradation of mRNA tend to advance the oscillation phase of mRNA expression. However, the phase difference between Per1 and Per2 was not reproduced by the model, which implemented a 1.1-fold difference in degradation rates and a 3-fold difference in CLOCK-BMAL1 mediated inductions of Per1 and Per2 as estimated in cultured mammalian cells. Thus, we hypothesized the existence of a novel transcriptional activation of Per2 by PER1/2 such that the Per2 oscillation phase was delayed. Indeed, only the Per2 promoter, but not Per1, was strongly induced by both PER1 and PER2 in the presence of CLOCK-BMAL1 in a luciferase reporter assay. Moreover, a 3-hour advance was observed in the transcriptional oscillation of the delta-Per2 reporter gene lacking cis-elements required for the induction by PER1/2. These results indicate that the Per2 positive feedback regulation is a significant factor responsible for generating the phase difference between Per1 and Per2 gene expression.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)