Light-dependent interactions between the Drosophila circadian clock factors cryptochrome, jetlag, and timeless

Current Biology
February 2009
Full Article
Peschel N
Chen KF
Szabo G
Stanewsky R


Circadian clocks regulate daily fluctuations of many physiological and behavioral aspects in life. They are synchronized with the environment via light or temperature cycles [1]. Natural fluctuations of the day length (photoperiod) and temperature necessitate a daily reset of the circadian clock on the molecular level. In Drosophila, the blue-light photoreceptor Cryptochrome (Cry) mediates a rapid light-dependent degradation of the clock protein Timeless (Tim) via the F box protein Jetlag (Jet) and the proteasome, which initiates the resetting of the molecular clock 2 and 3. Cry is also degraded in the light but whereas the degradation of Tim is well characterized 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8, the mechanism for light-dependent degradation of Cry is mostly unknown. Until now it was believed that these two degradation pathways are distinct 4 and 9. Here we reveal that Jetlag also interacts with Cry in a light-dependent manner. After illumination, Jetlag induces massive degradation of Cry, which can be prevented in vitro and in vivo by adding Tim as an antagonist. We show that the affinity of Tim for Cry and Jetlag determines the sequential order of Tim and Cry degradation and thus reveal an intimate connection between the light-dependent degradation of these two proteins by the same proteasomal pathway.