Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UC Santa Cruz

UC Santa Cruz Previously Published Works bannerUC Santa Cruz

The tail of cryptochromes: an intrinsically disordered cog within the mammalian circadian clock


Cryptochrome (CRY) proteins play an essential role in regulating mammalian circadian rhythms. CRY is composed of a structured N-terminal domain known as the photolyase homology region (PHR), which is tethered to an intrinsically disordered C-terminal tail. The PHR domain is a critical hub for binding other circadian clock components such as CLOCK, BMAL1, PERIOD, or the ubiquitin ligases FBXL3 and FBXL21. While the isolated PHR domain is necessary and sufficient to generate circadian rhythms, removing or modifying the cryptochrome tails modulates the amplitude and/or periodicity of circadian rhythms, suggesting that they play important regulatory roles in the molecular circadian clock. In this commentary, we will discuss how recent studies of these intrinsically disordered tails are helping to establish a general and evolutionarily conserved model for CRY function, where the function of PHR domains is modulated by reversible interactions with their intrinsically disordered tails. Video abstract.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View