Molecular Clock

Based on our publication in Science

Joost Snijder, Jan M. Schuller, Anika Wiegard, Philip Lössl, Nicolas Schmelling, Ilka M. Axmann, Jürgen M. Plitzko, Friedrich Förster, Albert J. R. Heck. Structures of the cyanobacterial circadian oscillator frozen in a fully assembled state. Science, 2017; 355 (6330): 1181 DOI: 10.1126/science.aag3218


Cyanobacteria have a robust circadian oscillator, known as the Kai system. Reconstituted from the purified protein components KaiC, KaiB, and KaiA, it can tick autonomously in the presence of adenosine 5′-triphosphate (ATP). The KaiC hexamers enter a natural 24-hour reaction cycle of autophosphorylation and assembly with KaiB and KaiA in numerous diverse forms. We describe the preparation of stoichiometrically well-defined assemblies of KaiCB and KaiCBA, as monitored by native mass spectrometry, allowing for a structural characterization by single-particle cryo–electron microscopy and mass spectrometry. Our data reveal details of the interactions between the Kai proteins and provide a structural basis to understand periodic assembly of the protein oscillator.