Dartmouth Medical School geneticists have found a molecular shortcut from light reception to gene activation in their work to understand biological clocks. Their research has revealed that the protein called White Collar-1 does double duty: it perceives light and then, in response to light, directly turns on a key gene called frequency, which is a central component of the clock.
Biological clocks are molecularly driven and are set, or synchronized, by the daily cycles of light and dark. Using the fungus Neurospora, the Dartmouth team is studying how organisms keep track of time using this internal clock.
"What we have discovered is that a protein called White Collar-1 is both the photoreceptor and the mechanism that turns on the frequency gene, all in one molecule,” explains Allan Froehlich, the lead author. “It’s the combination of the two activities that is so interesting.”
Sue Knapp | EurekAlert!
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