Recent advances suggest that the molecular components of the circadian clock generate a self-sustaining transcriptional–translational feedback loop with a period of approx. 24 h. The precise expression profiles of human clock genes and their products have not been elucidated. We cloned human clock genes, including per1, per2, per3, cry2 and clock, and evaluated their circadian mRNA expression profiles in WI-38 fibroblasts stimulated with serum. Transcripts of hPer1, hPer2, hPer3, hBMAL1 and hCry2 (where h is human) underwent circadian oscillation. Serum-stimulation also caused daily oscillations of hPER1 protein and the apparent molecular mass of hPER1 changed. Inhibitor studies indicated that the CKI (casein kinase I) family, including CKI∊ and CKIδ, phosphorylated hPER1 and increased the apparent molecular mass of hPER1. The inhibition of hPER1 phosphorylation by CKI-7 [N-(2-aminoethyl)-5-chloro-isoquinoline-8-sulphonamide], a CKI inhibitor, disturbed hPER1 degradation, delayed the nuclear entry of hPER1 and allowed it to persist for longer in the nucleus. Furthermore, proteasome inhibitors specifically blocked hPER1 degradation. However leptomycin B, an inhibitor of nuclear export, did not alter the degradation state of hPER1 protein. These findings indicate that circadian hPER1 degradation through a proteasomal pathway can be regulated through phosphorylation by CKI, but not by subcellular localization.

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