PRD-2 directly regulates casein kinase I and counteracts nonsense-mediated decay in the Neurospora circadian clock.
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Circadian clocks in fungi and animals are driven by a functionally conserved transcription-translation feedback loop. In Neurospora crassa, negative feedback is executed by a complex of Frequency (FRQ), FRQ-interacting RNA helicase (FRH), and casein kinase I (CKI), which inhibits the activity of the clock's positive arm, the White Collar Complex (WCC). Here, we show that the prd-2(period-2) gene, whose mutation is characterized by recessive inheritance of a long 26 hr period phenotype, encodes an RNA-binding protein that stabilizes the ck-1a transcript, resulting in CKI protein levels sufficient for normal rhythmicity. Moreover, by examining the molecular basis for the short circadian period of upf-1prd-6 mutants, we uncovered a strong influence of the Nonsense Mediated Decay pathway on CKI levels. The finding that circadian period defects in two classically derived Neurospora clock mutants each arise from disruption of ck-1a regulation is consistent with circadian period being exquisitely sensitive to levels of casein kinase I.