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O-GlcNAcylation of PERIOD regulates its interaction with CLOCK and timing of circadian transcriptional repression

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Circadian clocks coordinate time-of-day-specific metabolic and physiological processes to maximize organismal performance and fitness. In addition to light and temperature, which are regarded as strong zeitgebers for circadian clock entrainment, metabolic input has now emerged as an important signal for clock entrainment and modulation. Circadian clock proteins have been identified to be substrates of O-GlcNAcylation, a nutrient sensitive post-translational modification (PTM), and the interplay between clock protein O-GlcNAcylation and other PTMs is now recognized as an important mechanism by which metabolic input regulates circadian physiology. To better understand the role of O-GlcNAcylation in modulating clock protein function within the molecular oscillator, we used mass spectrometry proteomics to identify O-GlcNAcylation sites of PERIOD (PER), a repressor of the circadian transcriptome and a critical biochemical timer of the Drosophila clock. In vivo functional characterization of PER O-GlcNAcylation sites indicates that O-GlcNAcylation at PER(S942) reduces interactions between PER and CLOCK (CLK), the key transcriptional activator of clock-controlled genes. Since we observe a correlation between clock-controlled daytime feeding activity and higher level of PER O-GlcNAcylation, we propose that PER(S942) O-GlcNAcylation during the day functions to prevent premature initiation of circadian repression phase. This is consistent with the period-shortening behavioral phenotype of per(S942A) flies. Taken together, our results support that clock-controlled feeding activity provides metabolic signals to reinforce light entrainment to regulate circadian physiology at the post-translational level. The interplay between O-GlcNAcylation and other PTMs to regulate circadian physiology is expected to be complex and extensive, and reach far beyond the molecular oscillator.

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