Comprehensive modelling of the Neurospora circadian clock and its temperature compensation

PLoS Comput Biol. 2012;8(3):e1002437. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002437. Epub 2012 Mar 29.


Circadian clocks provide an internal measure of external time allowing organisms to anticipate and exploit predictable daily changes in the environment. Rhythms driven by circadian clocks have a temperature compensated periodicity of approximately 24 hours that persists in constant conditions and can be reset by environmental time cues. Computational modelling has aided our understanding of the molecular mechanisms of circadian clocks, nevertheless it remains a major challenge to integrate the large number of clock components and their interactions into a single, comprehensive model that is able to account for the full breadth of clock phenotypes. Here we present a comprehensive dynamic model of the Neurospora crassa circadian clock that incorporates its key components and their transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulation. The model accounts for a wide range of clock characteristics including: a periodicity of 21.6 hours, persistent oscillation in constant conditions, arrhythmicity in constant light, resetting by brief light pulses, and entrainment to full photoperiods. Crucial components influencing the period and amplitude of oscillations were identified by control analysis. Furthermore, simulations enabled us to propose a mechanism for temperature compensation, which is achieved by simultaneously increasing the translation of frq RNA and decreasing the nuclear import of FRQ protein.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Circadian Clocks / physiology*
  • Circadian Rhythm Signaling Peptides and Proteins / physiology*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Feedback, Physiological / physiology
  • Fungal Proteins / physiology*
  • Models, Biological*
  • Neurospora crassa / physiology*
  • Thermosensing / physiology*


  • Circadian Rhythm Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Fungal Proteins