Light induction of a vertebrate clock gene involves signaling through blue-light receptors and MAP kinases

Curr Biol. 2002 May 14;12(10):844-8. doi: 10.1016/s0960-9822(02)00835-7.


The signaling pathways that couple light photoreception to entrainment of the circadian clock have yet to be deciphered. Two prominent groups of candidates for the circadian photoreceptors are opsins (e.g., melanopsin) and blue-light photoreceptors (e.g., cryptochromes). We have previously showed that the zebrafish is an ideal model organism in which to study circadian regulation and light response in peripheral tissues. Here, we used the light-responsive zebrafish cell line Z3 to dissect the response of the clock gene zPer2 to light. We show that the MAPK (mitogen-activated protein kinase) pathway is essential for this response, although other signaling pathways may also play a role. Moreover, action spectrum analyses of zPer2 transcriptional response to monochromatic light demonstrate the involvement of a blue-light photoreceptor. The Cry1b and Cry3 cryptochromes constitute attractive candidates as photoreceptors in this setting. Our results establish a link between blue-light photoreceptors, probably cryptochromes, and the MAPK pathway to elicit light-induced transcriptional activation of clock genes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Ocular
  • Animals
  • Biological Clocks / genetics
  • Biological Clocks / radiation effects*
  • Cell Line
  • Circadian Rhythm / genetics
  • Circadian Rhythm / radiation effects
  • Color
  • Cryptochromes
  • Drosophila Proteins*
  • Eye Proteins / genetics
  • Eye Proteins / metabolism
  • Fish Proteins / genetics
  • Fish Proteins / metabolism
  • Flavoproteins / genetics
  • Flavoproteins / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation / radiation effects*
  • Light*
  • MAP Kinase Signaling System / radiation effects*
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism*
  • Period Circadian Proteins
  • Photoreceptor Cells, Invertebrate*
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • Time Factors
  • Zebrafish / genetics*
  • Zebrafish Proteins / genetics
  • Zebrafish Proteins / metabolism*


  • Cryptochromes
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Eye Proteins
  • Fish Proteins
  • Flavoproteins
  • Period Circadian Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • Zebrafish Proteins
  • cry protein, Drosophila
  • cry1a protein, zebrafish
  • per2 protein, zebrafish
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases