Circadian rhythms in Neurospora crassa: dynamics of the clock component frequency visualized using a fluorescent reporter

Fungal Genet Biol. 2010 Apr;47(4):332-41. doi: 10.1016/j.fgb.2009.12.013. Epub 2010 Jan 4.


The frequency (frq) gene of Neurospora crassa has long been considered essential to the function of this organism's circadian rhythm. Increasingly, deciphering the coupling of core oscillator genes such as frq to the output pathways of the circadian rhythm has become a major focus of circadian research. To address this coupling it is critical to have a reporter of circadian activity that can deliver high resolution spatial and temporal information about the dynamics of core oscillatory proteins such as FRQ. However, due to the difficulty of studying the expression of circadian rhythm genes in aerobic N. crassa cultures, little is known about the dynamics of this gene under physiologically realistic conditions. To address these issues we report a fluorescent fusion to the frq gene using a codon optimized version of the mCherry gene. To trace the expression and accumulation of FRQ-mCherryNC (FRQ-mCh) during the circadian rhythm, growing vegetative hyphae were scanned every hour under confocal microscopy (100x). Fluorescence of FRQ-mCh was detected only at the growing edge of the colony, and located in the cytoplasm and nuclei of vegetative hyphae for a distance of approximately 150-200microm from the apices of leading hyphae. When driven by the frq promoter, apparently there was also a second FRQ entrance into the nucleus during the circadian cycle; however the second entrance had a lower accumulation level than the first entrance. Thus this fluorescent fusion protein has proven useful in tracking the spatial dynamics of the frq protein and has indicated that the dynamics of the FRQ protein's nuclear trafficking may be more complex than previously realized.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Artificial Gene Fusion
  • Circadian Rhythm*
  • Fluorescence
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Fungal*
  • Genes, Reporter
  • Hyphae / physiology
  • Luminescent Proteins / genetics
  • Luminescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Neurospora crassa / physiology*


  • Luminescent Proteins