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1.  Role of miR-142-3p in the Post-Transcriptional Regulation of the Clock Gene Bmal1 in the Mouse SCN 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e65300.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNAs that function as post-transcriptional modulators by regulating stability or translation of target mRNAs. Recent studies have implicated miRNAs in the regulation of mammalian circadian rhythms. To explore the role of miRNAs in the post-transcriptional modulation of core clock genes in the master circadian pacemaker, we examined miR-142-3p for evidence of circadian expression in the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN), regulation of its putative clock gene target Bmal1 via specific binding sites in the 3′ UTR and overexpression-induced changes in the circadian rhythm of BMAL1 protein levels in SCN cells. In mice exposed to constant darkness (DD), miR-142-3p levels in the SCN were characterized by circadian rhythmicity with peak expression during early subjective day at CT 3. Mutagenesis studies indicate that two independent miRNA recognition elements located at nucleotides 1–7 and 335–357 contribute equally to miR-142-3p-induced repression of luciferase-reported Bmal1 3′ UTR activity. Importantly, overexpression of miR-142-3p in immortalized SCN cells abolished circadian variation in endogenous BMAL1 protein levels in vitro. Collectively, our results suggest that miR-142-3p may play a role in the post-transcriptional modulation of Bmal1 and its oscillatory regulation in molecular feedback loops mediating SCN circadian function.
PMCID: PMC3673942  PMID: 23755214
2.  Expression and Rhythmic Modulation of Circulating MicroRNAs Targeting the Clock Gene Bmal1 in Mice 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(7):e22586.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) interact with 3′ untranslated region (UTR) elements of target genes to regulate mRNA stability or translation and thus play a role in regulating many different biological processes, including circadian rhythms. However, specific miRNAs mediating the regulation of essential clock genes remain largely unknown. Because vesicles containing membrane-bound miRNAs are present in the circulatory system, we examined miRNAs predicted to target the clock gene, Bmal1, for evidence of rhythmic fluctuations in circulating levels and modulatory effects on the 3′ UTR activity of Bmal1. A number of miRNAs with Bmal1 as a predicted target were expressed in the serum of mice exposed to LD 12∶12 and of these miRNAs, miR-152 and miR-494 but not miR-142-3p were marked by diurnal oscillations with bimodal peaks in expression occurring near the middle of the day and 8 or 12 hr later during the night. Co-transfection of pre-miR over-expression constructs for miR-494 and miR-142-3p in HEK293 cells had significant effects in repressing luciferase-reported Bmal1 3′ UTR activity by as much as 60%, suggesting that these miRNAs may function as post-transcriptional modulators of Bmal1. In conjunction with previous studies implicating miRNAs as extracellular regulatory signals, our results suggest that circulating miRNAs may play a role in the regulation of the molecular clockworks in peripheral circadian oscillators.
PMCID: PMC3142187  PMID: 21799909
3.  CBP/p300 is a cell type-specific modulator of CLOCK/BMAL1-mediated transcription 
Molecular Brain  2009;2:34.
Previous studies have demonstrated tissue-specific regulation of the rhythm of circadian transcription, suggesting that transcription factor complex CLOCK/BMAL1, essential for maintaining circadian rhythm, regulates transcription in a tissue-specific manner. To further elucidate the mechanism of the cell type-specific regulation of transcription by CLOCK/BMAL1 at the molecular level, we investigated roles of CBP/p300 and tissue-specific cofactors in CLOCK/BMAL1-mediated transcription.
As shown previously, CBP/p300 stimulates CLOCK/BMAL1-mediated transcription in COS-1 cells. However, CBP/p300 repressed CLOCK/BMAL1-mediated transcription in NIH3T3 cells and knockdown of CBP or p300 expression by siRNA enhanced this transcription. Studies using GAL4-fusion proteins suggested that CBP represses CLOCK/BMAL1-mediated transcription by targeting CLOCK. We further investigated mechanisms of this cell type-specific modulation of CLOCK/BMAL1-mediated transcription by CBP by examining roles of co-repressor HDAC3 and co-activator pCAF, which are highly expressed in NIH3T3 and COS cells, respectively. CBP repressed CLOCK/BMAL1-mediated transcription in COS-1 cells when HDAC3 was overexpressed, but activated it in NIH3T3 cells when pCAF was overexpressed. CBP forms a complex with CLOCK by interacting with HDAC3 or pCAF; however, direct interaction of CBP with CLOCK was not observed.
Our findings indicate possible mechanisms by which CBP/p300 tissue-specifically acts cooperatively with pCAF and HDAC3 either as a co-activator or co-repressor, respectively, for CLOCK/BMAL1.
PMCID: PMC2785803  PMID: 19922678
4.  microRNA modulation of circadian clock period and entrainment 
Neuron  2007;54(5):813-829.
microRNAs (miRNAs) are a class of small, non-coding, RNAs that regulate the stability or translation of mRNA transcripts. Although recent work has implicated miRNAs in development and in disease, the expression and function of miRNAs in the adult mammalian nervous system has not been extensively characterized. Here, we examine the role of two brain-specific miRNAs, miR-219 and miR-132, in modulating the circadian clock located in the suprachiasmatic nucleus. miR-219 is a target of the CLOCK/BMAL1 complex, exhibits robust circadian rhythms of expression and the in vivo knockdown of miR-219 lengthens the circadian period. miR-132 is induced by photic entrainment cues via a MAPK/CREB-dependent mechanism, modulates clock gene expression, and attenuates the entraining effects of light. Collectively, these data reveal miRNAs as clock- and light-regulated genes and provide a mechanistic examination of their roles as effectors of pacemaker activity and entrainment.
PMCID: PMC2590749  PMID: 17553428
5.  Loss of Bmal1 leads to uncoupling and impaired glucose-stimulated insulin secretion in β-cells 
Islets  2011;3(6):381-388.
The circadian clock has been shown to regulate metabolic homeostasis. Mice with a deletion of Bmal1, a key component of the core molecular clock, develop hyperglycemia and hypoinsulinemia suggesting β-cell dysfunction. However, the underlying mechanisms are not fully known. In this study, we investigated the mechanisms underlying the regulation of β-cell function by Bmal1. We studied β-cell function in global Bmal1-/- mice, in vivo and in isolated islets ex vivo, as well as in rat insulinoma cell lines with shRNA-mediated Bmal1 knockdown. Global Bmal1-/- mice develop diabetes secondary to a significant impairment in glucose-stimulated insulin secretion (GSIS). There is a blunting of GSIS in both isolated Bmal1-/- islets and in Bmal1 knockdown cells, as compared with controls, suggesting that this is secondary to a loss of cell-autonomous effect of Bmal1. In contrast to previous studies, in these Bmal1-/- mice on a C57Bl/6 background, the loss of stimulated insulin secretion, interestingly, is with glucose but not to other depolarizing secretagogues, suggesting that events downstream of membrane depolarization are largely normal in Bmal1-/- islets. This defect in GSIS occurs as a result of increased mitochondrial uncoupling with consequent impairment of glucose-induced mitochondrial potential generation and ATP synthesis, due to an upregulation of Ucp2. Inhibition of Ucp2 in isolated islets leads to a rescue of the glucose-induced ATP production and insulin secretion in Bmal1-/- islets. Thus, Bmal1 regulates mitochondrial energy metabolism to maintain normal GSIS and its disruption leads to diabetes due to a loss of GSIS.
PMCID: PMC3329519  PMID: 22045262
Bmal1; circadian clock; diabetes; insulin secretion; mitochondria; β-cells
6.  Redundant Function of REV-ERBα and β and Non-Essential Role for Bmal1 Cycling in Transcriptional Regulation of Intracellular Circadian Rhythms 
PLoS Genetics  2008;4(2):e1000023.
The mammalian circadian clockwork is composed of a core PER/CRY feedback loop and additional interlocking loops. In particular, the ROR/REV/Bmal1 loop, consisting of ROR activators and REV-ERB repressors that regulate Bmal1 expression, is thought to “stabilize” core clock function. However, due to functional redundancy and pleiotropic effects of gene deletions, the role of the ROR/REV/Bmal1 loop has not been accurately defined. In this study, we examined cell-autonomous circadian oscillations using combined gene knockout and RNA interference and demonstrated that REV-ERBα and β are functionally redundant and are required for rhythmic Bmal1 expression. In contrast, the RORs contribute to Bmal1 amplitude but are dispensable for Bmal1 rhythm. We provide direct in vivo genetic evidence that the REV-ERBs also participate in combinatorial regulation of Cry1 and Rorc expression, leading to their phase-delay relative to Rev-erbα. Thus, the REV-ERBs play a more prominent role than the RORs in the basic clock mechanism. The cellular genetic approach permitted testing of the robustness of the intracellular core clock function. We showed that cells deficient in both REV-ERBα and β function, or those expressing constitutive BMAL1, were still able to generate and maintain normal Per2 rhythmicity. Our findings thus underscore the resilience of the intracellular clock mechanism and provide important insights into the transcriptional topologies underlying the circadian clock. Since REV-ERB function and Bmal1 mRNA/protein cycling are not necessary for basic clock function, we propose that the major role of the ROR/REV/Bmal1 loop and its constituents is to control rhythmic transcription of clock output genes.
Author Summary
Circadian clocks in plants, fungi, insects, and mammals all share a common transcriptional network architecture. At the cellular level, the mammalian clockwork consists of a core Per/Cry negative feedback loop and additional interlocking loops. We wished to address experimentally the contribution of the interlocking Bmal1 loop to clock function in mammals. Because behavioral rhythms do not always reflect cell-autonomous phenotypes and are subject to pleiotropic effects, we employed cell-based genetic approaches and monitored rhythms longitudinally using bioluminescent reporters of clock gene expression. We showed that REV-ERB repressors play a more prominent role than ROR activators in regulating the Bmal1 rhythm. However, significant rhythmicity remains even with constitutive expression of Bmal1, pointing to the resilience of the core loop to perturbations of the Bmal1 loop. We conclude that while the interlocking loop contributes to fine-tuning of the core loop, its primary function is to provide discrete waveforms of clock gene expression for control of local physiology. This study has important general implications not only for circadian biology across species, but also for the emerging field of systems biology that seeks to understand complex interactions in genetic networks.
PMCID: PMC2265523  PMID: 18454201
7.  Comprehensive analysis of microRNA-mRNA co-expression in circadian rhythm 
Experimental & Molecular Medicine  2009;41(9):638-647.
To investigate the potential role of microRNA (miRNA) in the regulation of circadian rhythm, we performed microarray-based expression profiling study of both miRNA and mRNA in mouse liver for 48 h at 4-hour intervals. Circadian miRNA-mRNA target pair is defined as the pair both elements of which show circadian expression patterns and the sequence-based target relationship of which can be predicted. Circadian initiators, Clock and Bmal1, showed inversely correlated circadian expression patterns against their corresponding miRNAs, miR-181d and miR-191, targeting them. In contrast, circadian suppressors, Per, Cry, CKIe and Rev-erba, exhibited positively correlated circadian expression patterns to their corresponding miRNAs. Genomic location analysis revealed that intronic region showed higher abundance of cyclic than non-cyclic miRNAs targeting circadian genes while other (i.e., 3'-UTR, exon and intergenic) regions showed no difference. It is suggested that miRNAs are involved in the regulation of peripheral circadian rhythm in mouse liver by modulating Clock:Bmal1 complex. Identifying specific miRNAs and their targets that are critically involved in circadian rhythm will provide a better understanding of the regulation of circadian-clock system.
PMCID: PMC2753657  PMID: 19478556
circadian rhythm; gene expression profiling; gene expression regulation; liver; mice; micro-RNA
8.  Interaction of circadian clock proteins PER2 and CRY with BMAL1 and CLOCK 
Circadian oscillation of clock-controlled gene expression is mainly regulated at the transcriptional level. Heterodimers of CLOCK and BMAL1 act as activators of target gene transcription; however, interactions of PER and CRY proteins with the heterodimer abolish its transcriptional activation capacity. PER and CRY are therefore referred to as negative regulators of the circadian clock. To further elucidate the mechanism how positive and negative components of the clock interplay, we characterized the interactions of PER2, CRY1 and CRY2 with BMAL1 and CLOCK using a mammalian two-hybrid system and co-immunoprecipitation assays.
Both PER2 and the CRY proteins were found to interact with BMAL1 whereas only PER2 interacts with CLOCK. CRY proteins seem to have a higher affinity to BMAL1 than PER2. Moreover, we provide evidence that PER2, CRY1 and CRY2 bind to different domains in the BMAL1 protein.
The regulators of clock-controlled transcription PER2, CRY1 and CRY2 differ in their capacity to interact with each single component of the BMAL1-CLOCK heterodimer and, in the case of BMAL1, also in their interaction sites. Our data supports the hypothesis that CRY proteins, especially CRY1, are stronger repressors than PER proteins.
PMCID: PMC2383916  PMID: 18430226
9.  The circadian clock gene BMAL1 is a novel therapeutic target for malignant pleural mesothelioma 
Malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) is a highly aggressive neoplasm arising from the mesothelial cells lining the parietal pleura and it exhibits poor prognosis. Although there has been significant progress in MPM treatment, development of more efficient therapeutic approaches is needed. BMAL1 is a core component of the circadian clock machinery and its constitutive overexpression in MPM has been reported. Here, we demonstrate that BMAL1 may serve as a molecular target for MPM. The majority of MPM cell lines and a subset of MPM clinical specimens expressed higher levels of BMAL1 compared to a nontumorigenic mesothelial cell line (MeT-5A) and normal parietal pleural specimens, respectively. A serum shock induced a rhythmical BMAL1 expression change in MeT-5A but not in ACC-MESO-1, suggesting that the circadian rhythm pathway is deregulated in MPM cells. BMAL1 knockdown suppressed proliferation and anchorage-dependent and independent clonal growth in two MPM cell lines (ACC-MESO-1 and H290) but not in MeT-5A. Notably, BMAL1 depletion resulted in cell cycle disruption with a substantial increase in apoptotic and polyploidy cell population in association with downregulation of Wee1, cyclin B and p21WAF1/CIP1 and upregulation of cyclin E expression. BMAL1 knockdown induced mitotic catastrophe as denoted by disruption of cell cycle regulators and induction of drastic morphological changes including micronucleation and multiple nuclei in ACC-MESO-1 cells that expressed the highest level of BMAL1. Taken together, these findings indicate that BMAL1 has a critical role in MPM and could serve as an attractive therapeutic target for MPM.
PMCID: PMC3479344  PMID: 22510946
apoptosis; BMAL1; mesothelioma; targeted therapy; mitotic catastrophe
10.  Direct Regulation of CLOCK Expression by REV-ERB 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(3):e17290.
Circadian rhythms are regulated at the cellular level by transcriptional feedback loops leading to oscillations in expression of key proteins including CLOCK, BMAL1, PERIOD (PER), and CRYPTOCHROME (CRY). The CLOCK and BMAL1 proteins are members of the bHLH class of transcription factors and form a heterodimer that regulates the expression of the PER and CRY genes. The nuclear receptor REV-ERBα plays a key role in regulation of oscillations in BMAL1 expression by directly binding to the BMAL1 promoter and suppressing its expression at certain times of day when REV-ERBα expression levels are elevated. We recently demonstrated that REV-ERBα also regulates the expression of NPAS2, a heterodimer partner of BMAL1. Here, we show that REV-ERBα also regulates the expression another heterodimer partner of BMAL1, CLOCK. We identified a REV-ERBα binding site within the 1st intron of the CLOCK gene using a chromatin immunoprecipitation – microarray screen. Suppression of REV-ERBα expression resulted in elevated CLOCK mRNA expression consistent with REV-ERBα's role as a transcriptional repressor. A REV-ERB response element (RevRE) was identified within this region of the CLOCK gene and was conserved between humans and mice. Additionally, the CLOCK RevRE conferred REV-ERB responsiveness to a heterologous reporter gene. Our data suggests that REV-ERBα plays a dual role in regulation of the activity of the BMAL1/CLOCK heterodimer by regulation of expression of both the BMAL1 and CLOCK genes.
PMCID: PMC3066191  PMID: 21479263
11.  BMAL1-dependent regulation of the mTOR signaling pathway delays aging 
Aging (Albany NY)  2014;6(1):48-57.
The circadian clock, an internal time-keeping system, has been linked with control of aging, but molecular mechanisms of regulation are not known. BMAL1 is a transcriptional factor and core component of the circadian clock; BMAL1 deficiency is associated with premature aging and reduced lifespan. Here we report that activity of mammalian Target of Rapamycin Complex 1 (mTORC1) is increased upon BMAL1 deficiency both in vivo and in cell culture. Increased mTOR signaling is associated with accelerated aging; in accordance with that, treatment with the mTORC1 inhibitor rapamycin increased lifespan of Bmal1−/− mice by 50%. Our data suggest that BMAL1 is a negative regulator of mTORC1 signaling. We propose that the circadian clock controls the activity of the mTOR pathway through BMAL1-dependent mechanisms and this regulation is important for control of aging and metabolism.
PMCID: PMC3927809  PMID: 24481314
biological clock; metabolism; aging; cell signaling; cell growth; proliferation
12.  BMAL1 Shuttling Controls Transactivation and Degradation of the CLOCK/BMAL1 Heterodimer 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2006;26(19):7318-7330.
CLOCK and BMAL1 are bHLH-PAS-containing transcription factors that bind to E-box elements and are indispensable for expression of core circadian clock components such as the Per and Cry genes. A key step in expression is the heterodimerization of CLOCK and BMAL1 and their accumulation in the nucleus with an approximately 24-h periodicity. We show here that nucleocytoplasmic shuttling of BMAL1 is essential for transactivation and for degradation of the CLOCK/BMAL1 heterodimer. Using serial deletions and point mutants, we identified a functional nuclear localization signal and Crm1-dependent nuclear export signals in BMAL1. Transient-transfection experiments revealed that heterodimerization of CLOCK and BMAL1 accelerates their turnover, as well as E-box-dependent clock gene transcription. Moreover, in embryonic mouse fibroblasts, robust transcription of Per2 is tightly associated with massive degradation of the CLOCK/BMAL1 heterodimer. CRY proteins suppressed this process during the transcription-negative phase and led to nuclear accumulation of the CLOCK/BMAL1 heterodimer. Thus, these findings suggest that the decrease of BMAL1 abundance during the circadian cycle reflects robust transcriptional activation of clock genes rather than inhibition of BMAL1 synthesis.
PMCID: PMC1592876  PMID: 16980631
13.  New role of zCRY and zPER2 as regulators of sub-cellular distributions of zCLOCK and zBMAL proteins 
Nucleic Acids Research  2003;31(3):935-943.
The core oscillator that generates circadian rhythm in eukaryotes consists of transcription/translation-based autoregulatory feedback loops by which clock gene products negatively regulate their own expression. Control of the accumulation and nuclear entry of the negative regulators PER and CRY is believed to be a key step in these loops. We clarified the mutual interaction between zebrafish clock-related proteins and their sub-cellular localizations in NIH3T3 cells. Six CRYs exist in zebrafish, of which zCRY1a strongly represses zCLOCK1: zBMAL3-mediated transcription, but zCRY3 does not. We show that zCRY1a interacts with zCLOCK1 and zBMAL3, facilitating nuclear accumulation, whereas zCRY3 associates with neither one and does not influence their sub-cellular distributions. We cloned zPer2 cDNA and showed that the protein product encoded by the cDNA acts as a moderate transcriptional repressor. In our sub-cellular localization studies we also found that zPER2 interacts with the zCLOCK1:zBMAL3 heterodimer, causing its cytoplasmic retention. zCRY1a and zPER2 apparently have opposite effects on the sub-cellular distribution of zCLOCK:zBMAL heterodimer. We speculate that the opposite regulation of the sub-cellular distribution of this is associated with the different transcriptional repression abilities of zCRY1a and zPER2. zCRY1a acts as a potent transcriptional inhibitor by interacting directly with the zCLOCK:zBMAL heterodimer in the nucleus, whereas zPER2 maintains the zCLOCK:zBMAL heterodimer in the cytoplasm, resulting in transactivation repression.
PMCID: PMC149195  PMID: 12560489
14.  A non-canonical E-box within the MyoD core enhancer is necessary for circadian expression in skeletal muscle 
Nucleic Acids Research  2011;40(8):3419-3430.
The myogenic differentiation 1 (MyoD) gene is a master regulator of myogenesis. We previously reported that the expression of MyoD mRNA oscillates over 24 h in skeletal muscle and that the circadian clock transcription factors, BMAL1 (brain and muscle ARNT-like 1) and CLOCK (circadian locomotor output cycles kaput), were bound to the core enhancer (CE) of the MyoD gene in vivo. In this study, we provide in vivo and in vitro evidence that the CE is necessary for circadian expression of MyoD in adult muscle. Gel shift assays identified a conserved non-canonical E-box within the CE that is bound by CLOCK and BMAL1. Functional analysis revealed that this E-box was required for full activation by BMAL1/CLOCK and for in vitro circadian oscillation. Expression profiling of muscle of CEloxP/loxP mice found approximately 1300 genes mis-expressed relative to wild-type. Based on the informatics results, we analyzed the respiratory function of mitochondria isolated from wild-type and CEloxP/loxP mice. These assays determined that State 5 respiration was significantly reduced in CEloxP/loxP muscle. The results of this work identify a novel element in the MyoD enhancer that confers circadian regulation to MyoD in skeletal muscle and suggest that loss of circadian regulation leads to changes in myogenic expression and downstream mitochondrial function.
PMCID: PMC3333858  PMID: 22210883
15.  Rhythmic SAF-A Binding Underlies Circadian Transcription of the Bmal1 Gene▿  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2008;28(10):3477-3488.
Although Bmal1 is a key component of the mammalian clock system, little is understood about the actual mechanism of circadian Bmal1 gene transcription, particularly at the chromatin level. Here we discovered a unique chromatin structure within the Bmal1 promoter. The RORE region, which is a critical cis element for the circadian regulation of the Bmal1 gene, is comprised of GC-rich open chromatin. The 3′-flanking region of the promoter inhibited rhythmic transcription in the reporter gene assay in vitro even in the presence of RORα and REV-ERBα. We also found that the nuclear matrix protein SAF-A binds to the 3′-flanking region with circadian timing, which was correlated with Bmal1 expression by footprinting in vivo. These results suggest that the unique chromatin structure containing SAF-A is required for the circadian transcriptional regulation of the Bmal1 gene in cells.
PMCID: PMC2423175  PMID: 18332112
16.  Bmal1 and β-Cell Clock Are Required for Adaptation to Circadian Disruption, and Their Loss of Function Leads to Oxidative Stress-Induced β-Cell Failure in Mice 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2013;33(11):2327-2338.
Circadian disruption has deleterious effects on metabolism. Global deletion of Bmal1, a core clock gene, results in β-cell dysfunction and diabetes. However, it is unknown if this is due to loss of cell-autonomous function of Bmal1 in β cells. To address this, we generated mice with β-cell clock disruption by deleting Bmal1 in β cells (β-Bmal1−/−). β-Bmal1−/− mice develop diabetes due to loss of glucose-stimulated insulin secretion (GSIS). This loss of GSIS is due to the accumulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and consequent mitochondrial uncoupling, as it is fully rescued by scavenging of the ROS or by inhibition of uncoupling protein 2. The expression of the master antioxidant regulatory factor Nrf2 (nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2) and its targets, Sesn2, Prdx3, Gclc, and Gclm, was decreased in β-Bmal1−/− islets, which may contribute to the observed increase in ROS accumulation. In addition, by chromatin immunoprecipitation experiments, we show that Nrf2 is a direct transcriptional target of Bmal1. Interestingly, simulation of shift work-induced circadian misalignment in mice recapitulates many of the defects seen in Bmal1-deficient islets. Thus, the cell-autonomous function of Bmal1 is required for normal β-cell function by mitigating oxidative stress and serves to preserve β-cell function in the face of circadian misalignment.
PMCID: PMC3648066  PMID: 23547261
17.  Role of Type II Protein Arginine Methyltransferase 5 in the Regulation of Circadian Per1 Gene 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e48152.
Circadian clocks are the endogenous oscillators that regulate rhythmic physiological and behavioral changes to correspond to daily light-dark cycles. Molecular dissections have revealed that transcriptional feedback loops of the circadian clock genes drive the molecular oscillation, in which PER/CRY complexes inhibit the transcriptional activity of the CLOCK/BMAL1 heterodimer to constitute a negative feedback loop. In this study, we identified the type II protein arginine methyltransferase 5 (PRMT5) as an interacting molecule of CRY1. Although the Prmt5 gene was constitutively expressed, increased interaction of PRMT5 with CRY1 was observed when the Per1 gene was repressed both in synchronized mouse liver and NIH3T3 cells. Moreover, rhythmic recruitment of PRMT5 and CRY1 to the Per1 gene promoter was found to be associated with an increased level of histone H4R3 dimethylation and Per1 gene repression. Consistently, decreased histone H4R3 dimethylation and altered rhythmic Per1 gene expression were observed in Prmt5-depleted cells. Taken together, these findings provide an insight into the link between histone arginine methylation by PRMT5 and transcriptional regulation of the circadian Per1 gene.
PMCID: PMC3485018  PMID: 23133559
18.  Bmal1 suppresses cancer cell invasion by blocking the phosphoinositide 3-kinase-Akt-MMP-2 signaling pathway 
Oncology Reports  2013;29(6):2109-2113.
Bmal1 is a core factor in the regulation of circadian rhythms. Previous studies have shown that Bmal1 suppresses tumor growth in cell culture and animal models and is down-regulated in certain types of cancer. The aim of the present study was to investigated whether Bmal1 influences the invasiveness of cancer cells. We demonstrated that knockdown of Bmal1 by RNA interference promoted cancer cell invasion, whereas its overexpression reduced cellular invasiveness. These effects were observed in lung cancer and glioma cells, and occurred regardless of p53 status. Therefore, it appears that Bmal1 suppresses the invasion of multiple cancer types in a p53-independent manner. Bmal1 knockdown-induced cancer cell invasion was accompanied by activation of the PI3K-Akt-MMP-2 pathway, and was prevented by inhibitors of PI3K, Akt or MMP-2. This suggests that Bmal1 suppresses cell invasion by blocking the PI3K-Akt-MMP-2 pathway. Since this invasion pathway is activated by the oncogene Bcl-w, we investigated whether Bmal1 affects the activity of Bcl-w. As expected, Bmal1 attenuated the ability of Bcl-w to promote MMP-2 accumulation and cell invasion, supporting the idea that Bmal1 antagonizes Bcl-w activity. Collectively, our data suggest that Bmal1 is a tumor suppressor, capable of suppressing cancer cell growth and invasiveness, and support the recent proposal that there is a tight molecular link between circadian rhythms and tumor formation/progression.
PMCID: PMC3694561  PMID: 23563360
Bmal1; cancer invasion; tumor suppressor; circadian clocks; Bcl-w
19.  Ligand modulation of REV-ERBα function resets the peripheral circadian clock in a phasic manner 
Journal of cell science  2008;121(Pt 21):3629-3635.
The nuclear receptor REV-ERBα is a key negative-feedback regulator of the biological clock. REV-ERBα binds to ROR elements of the Bmal1 (Arntl) promoter and represses Bmal1 transcription. This stabilizing negative loop is important for precise control of the circadian pacemaker. In the present study, we identified a novel synthetic REV-ERBα ligand, which enhances the recruitment of nuclear receptor co-repressor (NCoR) to REV-ERBα. In order to explore REV-ERBα action on resetting responses of the molecular clock, we first established the rhythmic transcription profile and expression level of REV-ERBα in Rat-1 fibroblasts. When applied at different phases of the circadian oscillation to cell models containing stably transfected Bmal1::Luc or Per2::Luc, the REV-ERBα ligand induced phase-dependent bi-directional phase shifts. When the phase changes were plotted against time, a clear phase response curve was revealed, with a significant peak-to-trough amplitude of ca. 5 hours. The phase-resetting effect was also observed when the compound was applied to primary lung fibroblasts and ectopic lung slices from transgenic PER2::Luc mice. Therefore, similar regulation of REV-ERBα function by endogenous ligands, such as heme, is likely to be an important mechanism for clock resetting. In addition, we identify a new means to generate phasic shifts in the clock.
PMCID: PMC3069549  PMID: 18946026
Nuclear hormone receptor; Circadian clock; Resetting; Phase response curve
20.  Circadian Clock Genes as Modulators of Sensitivity to Genotoxic Stress 
Cell cycle (Georgetown, Tex.)  2005;4(7):901-907.
A broad variety of organisms display circadian rhythms (i.e., oscillations with 24-hr periodicities) in many aspects of their behavior, physiology and metabolism. These rhythms are under genetic control and are generated endogenously at the cellular level. In mammals, the core molecular mechanism of the oscillator consists of two transcriptional activators, CLOCK and BMAL1, and their transcriptional targets, CRYPTOCHROMES (CRYS) and PERIODS (PERS). The CRY and PER proteins function as negative regulators of CLOCK/BMAL1 activity, thus forming the major circadian autoregulatory feedback loop. It is believed that the circadian clock system regulates daily variations in output physiology and metabolism through periodic activation/repression of the set of clock-controlled genes that are involved in various metabolic pathways. Importantly, circadian-controlled pathways include those that determine in vivo responses to genotoxic stress. By using circadian mutant mice deficient in different components of the molecular clock system, we have established genetic models that correlate with the two opposite extremes of circadian cycle as reflected by the activity of the CLOCK/BMAL1 transactivation complex. Comparison of the in vivo responses of these mutants to the chemotherapeutic drug, cyclophosphamide (CY), has established a direct correlation between drug toxicity and the functional status of the CLOCK/BMAL1 transcriptional complex. We have also demonstrated that CLOCK/BMAL1 modulates sensitivity to drug-induced toxicity by controlling B cell responses to active CY metabolites. These results suggest that the sensitivity of cells to genotoxic stress induced by anticancer therapy may be modulated by CLOCK/BMAL1 transcriptional activity. Further elucidation of the molecular mechanisms of circadian control as well as identification of specific pharmacological modulators of CLOCK/BMAL1 activity are likely to lead to the development of new anti-cancer treatment schedules with increased therapeutic index and reduced morbidity.
PMCID: PMC3774065  PMID: 15917646
Circadian; CLOCK; BMAL1; transcription; anticancer therapy
21.  Nascent-Seq reveals novel features of mouse circadian transcriptional regulation 
eLife  2012;1:e00011.
A substantial fraction of the metazoan transcriptome undergoes circadian oscillations in many cells and tissues. Based on the transcription feedback loops important for circadian timekeeping, it is commonly assumed that this mRNA cycling reflects widespread transcriptional regulation. To address this issue, we directly measured the circadian dynamics of mouse liver transcription using Nascent-Seq (genome-wide sequencing of nascent RNA). Although many genes are rhythmically transcribed, many rhythmic mRNAs manifest poor transcriptional rhythms, indicating a prominent contribution of post-transcriptional regulation to circadian mRNA expression. This analysis of rhythmic transcription also showed that the rhythmic DNA binding profile of the transcription factors CLOCK and BMAL1 does not determine the transcriptional phase of most target genes. This likely reflects gene-specific collaborations of CLK:BMAL1 with other transcription factors. These insights from Nascent-Seq indicate that it should have broad applicability to many other gene expression regulatory issues.
eLife digest
Many biological processes oscillate with a period of roughly 24 hr, and the ability of organisms as diverse as bacteria and humans to maintain such circadian rhythms, even under conditions of continuous darkness, influences a range of phenomena, including sleep, migration and reproduction. One characteristic of circadian rhythms is that they can adjust to local time (with humans suffering from jet lag as they wait for this to happen).
Experiments have shown that the circadian system in mammals relies on feedback loops that operate at the level of individual cells. These loops are controlled by two particular proteins, which comprise the transcription factor complex called BMAL1:CLK. Transcription factors cause particular sequences of bases in the DNA of cells to be transcribed into messenger RNA, thus starting the process by which target genes are expressed as proteins. In the case of BMAL1:CLK, these proteins are then modified, which inhibits any further transcription of the target genes. A reversal of these modifications is then followed by the synthesis of new proteins, which allows a new cycle of the transcription process to begin.
The amounts of many messenger RNAs (mRNAs) in a cell also increases and decreases with a period of 24 hr, and it was generally assumed that this was due to the changes in the level of transcription. More recently, however, it was suggested that other processes, such as splicing and translation, might also contribute to rhythmic changes in the amount of mRNA associated with particular genes. Such post-transcriptional processes are known to have a role in other areas of cell biology, including aspects of the circadian system, but until very recently this had not been studied in detail for all genes.
Now Menet et al. have directly assayed rhythmic transcription by measuring the amount of nascent mRNA being produced at a given time, six times a day, across all the genes in mouse liver cells using a high-throughput sequencing approach called Nascent-Seq. They compared this with the amount of liver mRNA expressed at six time points of the day. Although the authors found that many genes exhibit rhythmic mRNA expression in the mouse liver, about 70% of them did not show comparable transcriptional rhythms. Post-transcriptional regulation must, therefore, have a major role in the circadian system of mice and, presumably, other mammals.
Menet et al. also found that the influence of CLK:BMAL1 differed from what was expected, which suggests that it collaborates with a number of other transcription factors to effect transcription of most target genes. In addition to showing that circadian systems of mammals are more complex than previously believed, the results also illustrate the potential of Nascent-Seq as a genome-wide assay technique for exploring a range of questions related to gene expression and gene regulation.
PMCID: PMC3492862  PMID: 23150795
Circadian rhythms; transcription; nascent RNA; high-throughput sequencing; RNA processing; post-transcriptional regulation; Mouse
22.  Evidence for an Overlapping Role of CLOCK and NPAS2 Transcription Factors in Liver Circadian Oscillators▿  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2008;28(9):3070-3075.
The mechanisms underlying the circadian control of gene expression in peripheral tissues and influencing many biological pathways are poorly defined. Factor VII (FVII), the protease triggering blood coagulation, represents a valuable model to address this issue in liver since its plasma levels oscillate in a circadian manner and its promoter contains E-boxes, which are putative DNA-binding sites for CLOCK-BMAL1 and NPAS2-BMAL1 heterodimers and hallmarks of circadian regulation. The peaks of FVII mRNA levels in livers of wild-type mice preceded those in plasma, indicating a transcriptional regulation, and were abolished in Clock−/−; Npas2−/− mice, thus demonstrating a role for CLOCK and NPAS2 circadian transcription factors. The investigation of Npas2−/− and ClockΔ19/Δ19 mice, which express functionally defective heterodimers, revealed robust rhythms of FVII expression in both animal models, suggesting a redundant role for NPAS2 and CLOCK. The molecular bases of these observations were established through reporter gene assays. FVII transactivation activities of the NPAS2-BMAL1 and CLOCK-BMAL1 heterodimers were (i) comparable (a fourfold increase), (ii) dampened by the negative circadian regulators PER2 and CRY1, and (iii) abolished upon E-box mutagenesis. Our data provide the first evidence in peripheral oscillators for an overlapping role of CLOCK and NPAS2 in the regulation of circadianly controlled genes.
PMCID: PMC2293078  PMID: 18316400
23.  Krüppel-Like Factor KLF10 Is a Link between the Circadian Clock and Metabolism in Liver ▿  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2010;30(12):3059-3070.
The circadian timing system coordinates many aspects of mammalian physiology and behavior in synchrony with the external light/dark cycle. These rhythms are driven by endogenous molecular clocks present in most body cells. Many clock outputs are transcriptional regulators, suggesting that clock genes primarily control physiology through indirect pathways. Here, we show that Krüppel-like factor 10 (KLF10) displays a robust circadian expression pattern in wild-type mouse liver but not in clock-deficient Bmal1 knockout mice. Consistently, the Klf10 promoter recruited the BMAL1 core clock protein and was transactivated by the CLOCK-BMAL1 heterodimer through a conserved E-box response element. Profiling the liver transcriptome from Klf10−/− mice identified 158 regulated genes with significant enrichment for transcripts involved in lipid and carbohydrate metabolism. Importantly, approximately 56% of these metabolic genes are clock controlled. Male Klf10−/− mice displayed postprandial and fasting hyperglycemia, a phenotype accompanied by a significant time-of-day-dependent upregulation of the gluconeogenic gene Pepck and increased hepatic glucose production. Consistently, functional data showed that the proximal Pepck promoter is repressed directly by KLF10. Klf10−/− females were normoglycemic but displayed higher plasma triglycerides. Correspondingly, rhythmic gene expression of components of the lipogenic pathway, including Srebp1c, Fas, and Elovl6, was altered in females. Collectively, these data establish KLF10 as a required circadian transcriptional regulator that links the molecular clock to energy metabolism in the liver.
PMCID: PMC2876690  PMID: 20385766
24.  Regulation of BMAL1 Protein Stability and Circadian Function by GSK3β-Mediated Phosphorylation 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(1):e8561.
Circadian rhythms govern a large array of physiological and metabolic functions. To achieve plasticity in circadian regulation, proteins constituting the molecular clock machinery undergo various post-translational modifications (PTMs), which influence their activity and intracellular localization. The core clock protein BMAL1 undergoes several PTMs. Here we report that the Akt-GSK3β signaling pathway regulates BMAL1 protein stability and activity.
Principal Findings
GSK3β phosphorylates BMAL1 specifically on Ser 17 and Thr 21 and primes it for ubiquitylation. In the absence of GSK3β-mediated phosphorylation, BMAL1 becomes stabilized and BMAL1 dependent circadian gene expression is dampened. Dopamine D2 receptor mediated signaling, known to control the Akt-GSK3β pathway, influences BMAL1 stability and in vivo circadian gene expression in striatal neurons.
These findings uncover a previously unknown mechanism of circadian clock control. The GSK3β kinase phosphorylates BMAL1, an event that controls the stability of the protein and the amplitude of circadian oscillation. BMAL1 phosphorylation appears to be an important regulatory step in maintaining the robustness of the circadian clock.
PMCID: PMC2797305  PMID: 20049328
25.  Transcriptional oscillation of canonical clock genes in mouse peripheral tissues 
The circadian rhythm of about 24 hours is a fundamental physiological function observed in almost all organisms from prokaryotes to humans. Identification of clock genes has allowed us to study the molecular bases for circadian behaviors and temporal physiological processes such as hormonal secretion, and has prompted the idea that molecular clocks reside not only in a central pacemaker, the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) of hypothalamus in mammals, but also in peripheral tissues, even in immortalized cells. Furthermore, previous molecular dissection revealed that the mechanism of circadian oscillation at a molecular level is based on transcriptional regulation of clock and clock-controlled genes.
We systematically analyzed the mRNA expression of clock and clock-controlled genes in mouse peripheral tissues. Eight genes (mBmal1, mNpas2, mRev-erbα, mDbp, mRev-erbβ, mPer3, mPer1 and mPer2; given in the temporal order of the rhythm peak) showed robust circadian expressions of mRNAs in all tissues except testis, suggesting that these genes are core molecules of the molecular biological clock. The bioinformatics analysis revealed that these genes have one or a combination of 3 transcriptional elements (RORE, DBPE, and E-box), which are conserved among human, mouse, and rat genome sequences, and indicated that these 3 elements may be responsible for the biological timing of expression of canonical clock genes.
The observation of oscillatory profiles of canonical clock genes is not only useful for physiological and pathological examination of the circadian clock in various organs but also important for systematic understanding of transcriptional regulation on a genome-wide basis. Our finding of the oscillatory expression of canonical clock genes with a temporal order provides us an interesting hypothesis, that cyclic timing of all clock and clock-controlled genes may be dependent on several transcriptional elements including 3 known elements, E-box, RORE, and DBPE.
PMCID: PMC535906  PMID: 15473909

Results 1-25 (851191)