Circadian Dbp Transcription Relies on Highly Dynamic BMAL1-CLOCK Interaction with E Boxes and Requires the Proteasome
The transcription factors BMAL1 and CLOCK drive the circadian transcription of clock and clock-controlled genes, such as Dbp. To investigate the kinetics of BMAL1 binding to target genes in real time, we generated a cell line harboring tandem arrays of Dbp repeats and monitored the binding of a fluorescent BMAL1 fusion protein to these arrays by time-lapse microscopy. BMAL1 occupancy at the Dbp locus was highly circadian and strictly dependent on CLOCK. Moreover, BMAL1-CLOCK associations with Dbp were extremely unstable and displayed stochastic, proteasome-dependent fluctuations. Proteasome inhibition prolonged the residence time of BMAL1-CLOCK but resulted in an immediate attenuation of Dbp transcription. In cells harboring a single Dbp-luciferase reporter gene copy, this silencing was shown to be caused by a decrease in both the frequencies and sizes of transcriptional bursts. Thus, BMAL1 and CLOCK may act as Kamikaze activators, in that they are rapidly degraded once bound to Dbp chromatin.