Cermakian, N., Whitmore, D., Foulkes, N.S., and Sassone-Corsi, P. (2000) Asynchronous oscillations of two zebrafish CLOCK partners reveal differential clock control and function. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 97(8):4339-4344.
Most clock genes encode transcription factors that interact to elicit cooperative control of clock function. Using a two-hybrid system approach, we have isolated two different partners of zebrafish (zf) CLOCK, which are similar to the mammalian BMAL1 (brain and muscle arylhydrocarbon receptor nuclear translocator-like protein 1). The two homologs, zfBMAL1 and zfBMAL2, contain conserved basic helix-loop-helix-PAS (Period-Arylhydrocarbon receptor-Singleminded) domains but diverge in the carboxyl termini, thus bearing different transcriptional activation potential. As for zfClock, the expression of both zfBmals oscillates in most tissues in the animal. However, in many tissues, the peak, levels, and kinetics of expression are different between the two genes and for the same gene from tissue to tissue. These results support the existence of independent peripheral oscillators and suggest that zfBMAL1 and zfBMAL2 may exert distinct circadian functions, interacting differentially with zfCLOCK at various times in different tissues. Our findings also indicate that multiple controls may be exerted by the central clock and/or that peripheral oscillators can differentially interpret central clock signals.