Molecular and computational analysis of temperature compensation of the Neurospora crassa circadian clock

UoM administered thesis: Phd

  • Authors:
  • Matthew Valentine


Circadian clocks are internal timekeepers that allow organisms to anticipate and exploit predictable daily changes in their environment, aiding survival. Clock-driven rhythms, such as asexual spore development (conidiation) in Neurospora crassa, show temperature compensated periodicity that persists in constant conditions and can be reset by environmental time cues. This ability of circadian clocks to maintain a constant period and phase of behaviour over a range of temperatures is important, and whilst much of the machinery making up the circadian clock is known, the mechanism that underpins temperature compensation is not well understood. Further, it is unknown how the clock can control conidiation in the face of changing temperatures. To investigate possible mechanisms underlying temperature compensation, I first explored how compensation may arise within the central clock machinery using a comprehensive dynamic model of the Neurospora crassa circadian clock. This clock incorporates key components of the clock, and I introduced known temperature-sensitive component changes based on experimental observations. This analysis indicated that temperature-dependent changes in the binding of CK-1a to the FRQ-FRH complex may be pivotal in the temperature compensation mechanism. Previous work has highlighted the importance of the blue-light photoreceptor VIVID (VVD), as VVD knockout strains show a temperature-dependent delay in the phase of peak conidiation. Next I explored this potential role using a theoretical output model. By incorporating regulation of this pathway by VVD, I found that VVD may contribute to phase control by increasing expression of genes or proteins that peak early on in the output pathway. RNA-Seq experiments were carried out to assess the contribution of VVD to the overall transcriptomic profile of Neurospora. The analysis highlighted several key genes through which VVD may regulate the conidiation pathway, including the clock-controlled genes eas and ccg-9, which both show temperature- and strain-dependent changes in expression patterns over the time course of conidiation. In conclusion, VVD may indeed have an important role in the temperature compensation of output pathways, though further work is needed to assess the specific
contributions of genes highlighted by my RNA-Seq analysis to the compensatory mechanism.


Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Award date31 Dec 2016