Vitalini, Michael William (2007-05). Uncovering the circadian output pathways of Neurospora crassa. Doctoral Dissertation.
The ubiquity of circadian systems has allowed their characterization in a broad range of model systems, which has greatly improved knowledge of how these systems are organized and the vast range of cellular and organismal processes under circadian control. Most of the advances, however, have come in describing the central oscillators of these systems, and, in some cases, the input pathways used to coordinate these oscillators to external time. Very little progress has been made in understanding the output pathways that allow circadian systems to regulate the breadth of processes shown to be clock-controlled. A genetic selection was designed to obtain mutations in genes involved in circadianregulated expression of the Neurospora crassa ccg-1 and ccg-2 genes. Some, but not all, of the strains obtained display altered regulation of more than one ccg as well as an 'Easlike' appearance on solid media, and altered circadian period on race tubes. The data suggest a model in which output from the clock to these two genes is through a single, bifurcated pathway. The cloning of the gene mutated (rrg-1) in one of the strains from the above selection led to the first molecular description of a circadian output pathway in Neurospora, the HOG MAP kinase pathway. The HOG pathway has been previously described with regard to its role in the osmotic-stress response. The discovery of the involvement of rrg-1 in circadian regulation of ccg-1 and ccg-2 led to the discovery of regulation of the HOG pathway by the circadian clock. The data indicate that osmotic stress information and time-of-day information are transduced through the HOG pathway and implicate a role for the clock in preparing the organism for daily occurrences of hyperosmotic stress associated with sun exposure. The genetic selection, and the description of the HOG pathway with regard to circadian output, provide a basis for further characterization of circadian output in Neurospora. The ubiquity of MAP kinase pathways, such as the HOG pathway, and the observed similarities in the mechanisms of circadian clock function across multiple phyla, indicate that these findings may well be applicable to other model systems.