Critical role for CCA1 and LHY in maintaining circadian rhythmicity in Arabidopsis

Alabadi, Yanovsky, Mas, Harmer, and Kay 2002, Current Biology


Circadian clocks are autoregulatory, endogenous mechanisms that allow organisms, from bacteria to humans, to advantageously time a wide range of activities within 24-hr environmental cycles. CIRCADIAN CLOCK ASSOCIATED 1 (CCA1) and LATE ELONGATED HYPOCOTYL (LHY) are thought to be important components of the circadian clock in the model plant Arabidopsis. The similar circadian phenotypes of lines overexpressing either CCA1 or LHY have suggested that the functions of these two transcription factors are largely overlapping. cca1-1 plants, which lack CCA1 protein, show a short-period phenotype for the expression of several genes when assayed under constant light conditions. This suggests that LHY function is able to only partially compensate for the lack of CCA1 protein, resulting in a clock with a faster pace in cca1-1 plants. We have obtained plants lacking CCA1 and with LHY function strongly reduced, cca1-1 lhy-R, and show that these plants are unable to maintain sustained oscillations in both constant light and constant darkness. However, these plants exhibit some circadian function in light/dark cycles, showing that the Arabidopsis circadian clock is not entirely dependent on CCA1 and LHY activities.