PLOSONE_9_12_e114899.pdf 2.66 MB
Insect circadian rhythms are generated by a circadian clock consisting of transcriptional/translational feedback loops, in which CYCLE and CLOCK are the key elements in activating the transcription of various clock genes such as timeless (tim) and period (per). Although the transcriptional regulation of Clock (Clk) has been profoundly studied, little is known about the regulation of cycle (cyc). Here, we identify the orphan nuclear receptor genes HR3 and E75, which are orthologs of mammalian clock genes, Rorα and Rev-erbα, respectively, as factors involved in the rhythmic expression of the cyc gene in a primitive insect, the firebrat Thermobia domestica. Our results show that HR3 and E75 are rhythmically expressed, and their normal, rhythmic expression is required for the persistence of locomotor rhythms. Their RNAi considerably altered the rhythmic transcription of not only cyc but also tim. Surprisingly, the RNAi of HR3 revealed the rhythmic expression of Clk, suggesting that this ancestral insect species possesses the mechanisms for rhythmic expression of both cyc and Clk genes. When either HR3 or E75 was knocked down, tim, cyc, and Clk or tim and cyc, respectively, oscillated in phase, suggesting that the two genes play an important role in the regulation of the phase relationship among the clock genes. Interestingly, HR3 and E75 were also found to be involved in the regulation of ecdysis, suggesting that they interconnect the circadian clock and developmental processes.
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© 2014 Kamae et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.