Molecular mechanisms of circadian clock function

Group Leaders
Paloma Mas
CSIC Research Professor


A wide variety of biological processes exhibit a rhythmic pattern of activity with a period of exactly 24 hours. The temporal coordination of these rhythms is regulated by a cellular endogenous mechanism known as circadian clock. From bacteria to humans, the presence of the circadian clock has provided a remarkable adaptive advantage throughout evolution. In plants, the temporal synchronization of physiology with the environment is essential for successful plant growth and development. The intimate connection between light signaling pathways and the circadian oscillator allows the anticipation of the environmental transitions and the measurement of day-length as an indicator of changing seasons.

Current research in our group focuses on identifying new components and mechanisms of circadian clock progression using Arabidopsis thaliana and other crops of agronomical interest. Our research focuses on how environmental signals such as light and temperature synchronize the pace of the clock. We also study changes in chromatin remodeling and transcriptional activity that govern the rhythmic expression of clock genes. Studies on the influence of the circadian clock regulating metabolism, responses to abiotic stresses and plant growth and development are also topics of interest in our lab. We attempt to understand the spatial specificity of clock function, to elucidate how, where and when the clock cells communicate with each other to sustain timing information. We apply a combination of genetic, biochemical, cellular and molecular approaches to obtain a comprehensive view of the interactive networks underlying circadian clock progression in plants.

Selected Publications

Takahashi, N., Hirata, Y., Aihara, K., Mas, P.
A Hierarchical Multi-oscillator Network Orchestrates the Arabidopsis Circadian System
(2015) Cell, vol. 163 (1), pp. 148-159

Huang, W., Pérez-García, P., Pokhilko, A., Millar, A.J., Antoshechkin, I., Riechmann, J.L., Mas, P.
Mapping the core of the Arabidopsis circadian clock defines the network structure of the oscillator
(2012) Science, vol. 335 (6077), pp. 75-79

Sanchez, S.E., Petrillo, E., Beckwith, E.J., Zhang, X., Rugnone, M.L., Hernando, C.E., Cuevas, J.C., Godoy Herz, M.A., Depetris-Chauvin, A., Simpson, C.G., Brown, J.W.S., Cerdán, P.D., Borevitz, J.O., Mas, P., Ceriani, M.F., Kornblihtt, A.R., Yanovsky, M.J.
A methyl transferase links the circadian clock to the regulation of alternative splicing
(2010) Nature, vol. 468 (7320), pp. 112-116

Chen WW, Takahashi N, Hirata Y, Ronald J, Porco S, Davis SJ, Nusinow DA, Kay SA, Mas P.
A mobile ELF4 delivers circadian temperature information from shoots to roots.
(2020) Nature Plants, vol. 6(4):416-426

Okada M, Yang Z, Mas P.
Circadian autonomy and rhythmic precision of the Arabidopsis female reproductive organ
(2020) Developmental Cell, 0:S1534-5807(22)00599-8.

Fung-Uceda, J., Lee, K., Seo, P.J., Polyn, S., De Veylder, L., Mas, P.
The Circadian Clock Sets the Time of DNA Replication Licensing to Regulate Growth in Arabidopsis
(2018) Developmental Cell, vol. 45 (1), pp. 101-113.e4

Pérez-García, P., Ma, Y., Yanovsky, M.J., Mas, P.
Time-dependent sequestration of RVE8 by LNK proteins shapes the diurnal oscillation of anthocyanin biosynthesis
(2015) Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol. 112 (16), pp. 5249-5253

Malapeira, J., Khaitova, L.C., Mas, P.
Ordered changes in histone modifications at the core of the Arabidopsis circadian clock
(2012) Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol. 109 (52), pp. 21540-21545

Ma, Y., Gil, S., Grasser, K.D., Mas, P.
Targeted recruitment of the basal transcriptional machinery by LNK clock components controls the circadian rhythms of nascent RNAs in arabidopsis
(2018) Plant Cell, vol. 30 (4), pp. 907-924

Portolés, S., Más, P.
The functional interplay between protein kinase CK2 and cca1 transcriptional activity is essential for clock temperature compensation in Arabidopsis
(2010) PLoS Genetics, vol. 6 (11), Art. number e1001201