GSBS Student Publications


A subset of dorsal neurons modulates circadian behavior and light responses in Drosophila

Student Author(s)

Alejandro Murad

GSBS Program


UMMS Affiliation

Department of Neurobiology; Emery Lab; Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Neuroscience Program



Document Type


Medical Subject Headings

Animals; Animals, Genetically Modified; Circadian Rhythm; Darkness; Drosophila; Drosophila Proteins; Eye Proteins; Lighting; Neurons; Neuropeptides; Nuclear Proteins; Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled


Neuroscience and Neurobiology


A fundamental property of circadian rhythms is their ability to persist under constant conditions. In Drosophila, the ventral Lateral Neurons (LNvs) are the pacemaker neurons driving circadian behavior under constant darkness. Wild-type flies are arrhythmic under constant illumination, but flies defective for the circadian photoreceptor CRY remain rhythmic. We found that flies overexpressing the pacemaker gene per or the morgue gene are also behaviorally rhythmic under constant light. Unexpectedly, the LNvs do not drive these rhythms: they are molecularly arrhythmic, and PDF--the neuropeptide they secrete to synchronize behavioral rhythms under constant darkness--is dispensable for rhythmicity in constant light. Molecular circadian rhythms are only found in a group of Dorsal Neurons: the DN1s. Thus, a subset of Dorsal Neurons shares with the LNvs the ability to function as pacemakers for circadian behavior, and its importance is promoted by light.

Rights and Permissions

Citation: Neuron. 2007 Mar 1;53(5):689-701. Link to article on publisher's site

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