CLOCKWORK ORANGE promotes CLOCK-CYCLE activation via the putative Drosophila ortholog of CLOCK INTERACTING PROTEIN CIRCADIAN. Academic Article uri icon


  • The Drosophila circadian clock is driven by a transcriptional feedback loop in which CLOCK-CYCLE (CLK-CYC) binds E-boxes to transcribe genes encoding the PERIOD-TIMELESS (PER-TIM) repressor, which releases CLK-CYC from E-boxes to inhibit transcription. CLOCKWORK ORANGE (CWO) reinforces PER-TIM repression by binding E-boxes to maintain PER-TIM bound CLK-CYC off DNA, but also promotes CLK-CYC transcription through an unknown mechanism. To determine how CWO activates CLK-CYC transcription, we identified CWO target genes that are upregulated in the absence of CWO repression, conserved in mammals, and preferentially expressed in brain pacemaker neurons. Among the genes identified was a putative ortholog of mouse Clock Interacting Protein Circadian (Cipc), which represses CLOCK-BMAL1 transcription. Reducing or eliminating Drosophila Cipc expression shortens period, while overexpressing Cipc lengthens period, which is consistent with previous work showing that Drosophila Cipc represses CLK-CYC transcription in S2 cells. Cipc represses CLK-CYC transcription invivo, but not uniformly, as per is strongly repressed, tim less so, and vri hardly at all. Long period rhythms in cwo mutant flies are largely rescued when Cipc expression is reduced or eliminated, indicating that increased Cipc expression mediates the period lengthening of cwo mutants. Consistent with this behavioral rescue, eliminating Cipc rescues the decreased CLK-CYC transcription in cwo mutant flies, where per is strongly rescued, tim is moderately rescued, and vri shows little rescue. These results suggest a mechanism for CWO-dependent CLK-CYC activation: CWO inhibition of CIPC repression promotes CLK-CYC transcription. This mechanism may be conserved since cwo and Cipc perform analogous roles in the mammalian circadian clock.

published proceedings

  • Curr Biol

altmetric score

  • 9.05

author list (cited authors)

  • Rivas, G., Zhou, J., Merlin, C., & Hardin, P. E.

citation count

  • 2

complete list of authors

  • Rivas, Gustavo BS||Zhou, Jian||Merlin, Christine||Hardin, Paul E

publication date

  • January 2021