A key temporal delay in the circadian cycle of Drosophila is mediated by a nuclear localization signal in the timeless protein

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Regulated nuclear entry of the Period (PER) and Timeless (TIM) proteins, two components of the Drosophila circadian clock, is essential for the generation and maintenance of circadian behavior. PER and TIM shift from the cytoplasm to the nucleus daily, and the length of time that PER and TIM reside in the cytoplasm is an important determinant of the period length of the circadian rhythm. Here we identify a TIM nuclear localization signal (NLS) that is required for appropriately timed nuclear accumulation of both TIM and PER. Transgenic flies with a mutated TIM NLS produced circadian rhythms with a period of 30 hr. In pacemaker cells of the brain, PER and TIM proteins rise to abnormally high levels in the cytoplasm of tim ΔNLS mutants, but show substantially reduced nuclear accumulation. In cultured S2 cells, the mutant TIM ΔNLS protein significantly delays nuclear accumulation of both TIM and wild-type PER proteins. These studies confirm that TIM is required for the nuclear localization of PER and point to a key role for the TIM NLS in the regulated nuclear accumulation of both proteins. © 2011 by the Genetics Society of America.


01 Jul 2011