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Science 318 (5849): 467-470

Copyright © 2007 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Light-Responsive Cryptochromes from a Simple Multicellular Animal, the Coral Acropora millepora

O. Levy,1 L. Appelbaum,2 W. Leggat,1 Y. Gothlif,3 D. C. Hayward,4,6 D. J. Miller,5,6 O. Hoegh-Guldberg1,5

Abstract: Hundreds of species of reef-building corals spawn synchronously over a few nights each year, and moonlight regulates this spawning event. However, the molecular elements underpinning the detection of moonlight remain unknown. Here we report the presence of an ancient family of blue-light–sensing photoreceptors, cryptochromes, in the reef-building coral Acropora millepora. In addition to being cryptochrome genes from one of the earliest-diverging eumetazoan phyla, cry1 and cry2 were expressed preferentially in light. Consistent with potential roles in the synchronization of fundamentally important behaviors such as mass spawning, cry2 expression increased on full moon nights versus new moon nights. Our results demonstrate phylogenetically broad roles of these ancient circadian clock–related molecules in the animal kingdom.

1 Centre for Marine Studies, University of Queensland, St. Lucia 4072 QLD, Australia.
2 Center for Narcolepsy and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA, USA.
3 Department of Neurobiochemistry, Faculty of Life Sciences, Tel Aviv University, Israel.
4 Research School of Biological Sciences, Australian National University, Canberra ACT 2601, Australia.
5 Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD 4811, and University of Queensland, St. Lucia 4072 QLD, Australia.
6 ARC Centre for the Molecular Genetics of Development, Research School of Biological Sciences, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia.


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