, Volume 124, Issue 2–3, pp 247–255 | Cite as

Functional divergence of the circadian clock proteins in prokaryotes

  • Volodymyr Dvornyk
  • Bjarne Knudsen


Cyanobacteria are only prokaryotes known so far to have a circadian system. It may be based either on two (kaiB and kaiC) or three (kaiA, kaiB and kaiC) circadian genes. The homologs of two circadian proteins, KaiB and KaiC, form four major subfamilies (K1–K4) and also occur in some other prokaryotes. Using the likelihood-ratio tests, we studied a rate shift at the functional divergence of the proteins from the different subfamilies. It appears that only two of the subfamilies (K1 and K2) perform circadian functions. We identified in total 92 sites that have significantly different rates of evolution between the clades K1/K2 and K3/K4; 67 sites (15 in KaiB and 52 in KaiC) been evolving significantly slower in K1/K2 than the overall average for the entire sequence. Many critical sites are located in the identified functionally important motifs and regions, e.g. one of the Walker’s motif As, DXXG motif, and two KaiA-binding domains of KaiC. There are also 36 sites (~5%) with rate shift between K1 and K2. The rate shift at these sites may be related to the interaction with KaiA. Rate shift analyses have identified residues whose manipulation in the Kai proteins may lead to better understanding of their functions in the two different types of the cyanobacterial circadian system.


circadian genes cyanobacteria functional divergence rate shift 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Osteoporosis Research Center and Department of Biomedical SciencesCreighton UniversityOmahaUSA
  2. 2.Department of ZoologyUniversity of Florida GainesvilleUSA

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