Light activates output from evening neurons and inhibits output from morning neurons in the Drosophila circadian clock.
ABSTRACT: Animal circadian clocks are based on multiple oscillators whose interactions allow the daily control of complex behaviors. The Drosophila brain contains a circadian clock that controls rest-activity rhythms and relies upon different groups of PERIOD (PER)-expressing neurons. Two distinct oscillators have been functionally characterized under light-dark cycles. Lateral neurons (LNs) that express the pigment-dispersing factor (PDF) drive morning activity, whereas PDF-negative LNs are required for the evening activity. In constant darkness, several lines of evidence indicate that the LN morning oscillator (LN-MO) drives the activity rhythms, whereas the LN evening oscillator (LN-EO) does not. Since mutants devoid of functional CRYPTOCHROME (CRY), as opposed to wild-type flies, are rhythmic in constant light, we analyzed transgenic flies expressing PER or CRY in the LN-MO or LN-EO. We show that, under constant light conditions and reduced CRY function, the LN evening oscillator drives robust activity rhythms, whereas the LN morning oscillator does not. Remarkably, light acts by inhibiting the LN-MO behavioral output and activating the LN-EO behavioral output. Finally, we show that PDF signaling is not required for robust activity rhythms in constant light as opposed to its requirement in constant darkness, further supporting the minor contribution of the morning cells to the behavior in the presence of light. We therefore propose that day-night cycles alternatively activate behavioral outputs of the Drosophila evening and morning lateral neurons.
Project description:The brain of Drosophila melanogaster contains approximately 150 circadian neurons  functionally divided into morning and evening cells that control peaks in daily behavioral activity at dawn and dusk, respectively [2, 3]. The PIGMENT DISPERSING-FACTOR (PDF)-positive small ventral lateral neurons (sLN(v)s) promote morning behavior, whereas the PDF-negative sLN(v) and the dorsal lateral neurons (LN(d)s) generate evening activity. Much less is known about the approximately 120 dorsal neurons (DN1, 2, and 3). Using a Clk-GAL4 driver that specifically targets a subset of DN1s, we generated mosaic per(0) flies with clock function restored only in these neurons. We found that the Clk4.1M-GAL4-positive DN1s promote only morning activity under standard (high light intensity) light/dark cycles. Surprisingly, however, these circadian neurons generate a robust evening peak of activity under a temperature cycle in constant darkness. Using different light intensities and ambient temperatures, we resolved this apparent paradox. The DN1 behavioral output is under both photic and thermal regulation. High light intensity suppresses DN1-generated evening activity. Low temperature inhibits morning behavior, but it promotes evening activity under high light intensity. Thus, the Clk4.1M-GAL4-positive DN1s, or the neurons they target, integrate light and temperature inputs to control locomotor rhythms. Our study therefore reveals a novel mechanism contributing to the plasticity of circadian behavior.
Project description:In Drosophila, neuropeptide Pigment Dispersing Factor (PDF) is expressed in small and large ventral Lateral Neurons (sLNv and lLNv), among which sLNv are critical for activity rhythms in constant darkness. Studies show that this is mediated by rhythmic accumulation and likely secretion of PDF from sLNv dorsal projections, which in turn synchronises molecular oscillations in downstream circadian neurons. Using targeted expression of a neurodegenerative protein Huntingtin in LNv, we evoke a selective loss of neuropeptide PDF and clock protein PERIOD from sLNv soma. However, PDF is not lost from sLNv dorsal projections and lLNv. These flies are behaviourally arrhythmic in constant darkness despite persistence of PDF oscillations in sLNv dorsal projections and synchronous PERIOD oscillations in downstream circadian neurons. We find that PDF oscillations in sLNv dorsal projections are not sufficient for sustenance of activity rhythms in constant darkness and this is suggestive of an additional component that is possibly dependent on sLNv molecular clock and PDF in sLNv soma. Additionally, despite loss of PERIOD in sLNv, their activity rhythms entrain to light/dark cycles indicating that sLNv molecular clocks are not necessary for entrainment. Under constant light, these flies lack PDF from both soma and dorsal projections of sLNv, and when subjected to light/dark cycles, show morning and evening anticipation and accurately phased morning and evening peaks. Thus, under light/dark cycles, PDF in sLNv is not necessary for morning anticipation.
Project description:Circadian clocks in the brain are organized as coupled oscillators that integrate seasonal cues such as light and temperature to time daily behaviors. In Drosophila, the PIGMENT DISPERSING FACTOR (PDF) neuropeptide-expressing morning (M) and non-PDF evening (E) cells are coupled cell groups important for morning and evening behavior, respectively. Depending on day length, either M cells (short days) or E cells (long days) dictate both the morning and the evening phase, a phenomenon that we term network hierarchy. To examine the role of PDF in light-dark conditions, we examined flies lacking both the PDF receptor (PDFR) and the circadian photoreceptor CRYPTOCHROME (CRY). We found that subsets of E cells exhibit molecular oscillations antiphase to those of wild-type flies, single cry mutants, or single Pdfr mutants, demonstrating a potent role for PDF in light-mediated entrainment, specifically in the absence of CRY. Moreover, we find that the evening behavioral phase is more strongly reset by PDF(+) M cells in the absence of CRY. On the basis of our findings, we propose that CRY can gate PDF signaling to determine behavioral phase and network hierarchy.
Project description:In Drosophila, ~150 neurons expressing molecular clock proteins regulate circadian behavior. Sixteen of these neurons secrete the neuropeptide Pdf and have been called 'master pacemakers' because they are essential for circadian rhythms. A subset of Pdf+ neurons (the morning oscillator) regulates morning activity and communicates with other non-Pdf+ neurons, including a subset called the evening oscillator. It has been assumed that the molecular clock in Pdf+ neurons is required for these functions. To test this, we developed and validated Gal4-UAS based CRISPR tools for cell-specific disruption of key molecular clock components, period and timeless. While loss of the molecular clock in both the morning and evening oscillators eliminates circadian locomotor activity, the molecular clock in either oscillator alone is sufficient to rescue circadian locomotor activity in the absence of the other. This suggests that clock neurons do not act in a hierarchy but as a distributed network to regulate circadian activity.
Project description:The fruit fly <i>Drosophila melanogaster</i> possesses approximately 150 brain clock neurons that control circadian behavioral rhythms. Even though individual clock neurons have self-sustaining oscillators, they interact and synchronize with each other through a network. However, little is known regarding the factors responsible for these network interactions. In this study, we investigated the role of CCHamide1 (CCHa1), a neuropeptide expressed in the anterior dorsal neuron 1 (DN<sub>1a</sub>), in intercellular communication of the clock neurons. We observed that CCHa1 connects the DN<sub>1a</sub> clock neurons to the ventral lateral clock neurons (LN<sub>v</sub>) via the CCHa1 receptor, which is a homolog of the gastrin-releasing peptide receptor playing a role in circadian intercellular communications in mammals. <i>CCHa1</i> knockout or knockdown flies have a generally low activity level with a special reduction of morning activity. In addition, they exhibit advanced morning activity under light-dark cycles and delayed activity under constant dark conditions, which correlates with an advance/delay of PAR domain Protein 1 (PDP1) oscillations in the small-LN<sub>v</sub> (s-LN<sub>v</sub>) neurons that control morning activity. The terminals of the s-LN<sub>v</sub> neurons show rather high levels of Pigment-dispersing factor (PDF) in the evening, when PDF is low in control flies, suggesting that the knockdown of <i>CCHa1</i> leads to increased PDF release; PDF signals the other clock neurons and evidently increases the amplitude of their PDP1 cycling. A previous study showed that high-amplitude PDP1 cycling increases the siesta of the flies, and indeed, <i>CCHa1</i> knockout or knockdown flies exhibit a longer siesta than control flies. The DN<sub>1a</sub> neurons are known to be receptive to PDF signaling from the s-LN<sub>v</sub> neurons; thus, our results suggest that the DN<sub>1a</sub> and s-LN<sub>v</sub> clock neurons are reciprocally coupled via the neuropeptides CCHa1 and PDF, and this interaction fine-tunes the timing of activity and sleep.
Project description:Circadian clocks schedule biological functions at a specific time of the day. Full comprehension of the clock function requires precise understanding of their entrainment to the environment. The phase of entrained clock is plastic, which depends on different factors such as the period of endogenous oscillator, the period of the zeitgeber cycle (T), and the proportion of light and darkness (day length). The circadian clock of fruit fly <i>Drosophila melanogaster</i> is able to entrain to a wide range of T-cycles and day lengths. Here, we investigated the importance of the neuropeptide Pigment-Dispersing Factor (PDF) for entrainment by systematically studying locomotor activity rhythms of <i>Pdf <sup>0</sup></i> mutants and wild-type flies under different T-cycles (T22 to T32) and different day lengths (8, 12, and 16 hour [h]). Furthermore, we analysed PERIOD protein oscillations in selected groups of clock neurons in both genotypes under T24 and T32 at a day length of 16 h. As expected, we found that the phase of <i>Drosophila's</i> evening activity and evening neurons advanced with increasing T in all the day lengths. This advance was much larger in <i>Pdf <sup>0</sup></i> mutants (~7 h) than in wild-type flies causing (1) pronounced desynchrony between morning and evening neurons and (2) evening activity to move in the morning instead of the evening. Most interestingly, we found that the lights-off transition determines the phase of evening neurons in both genotypes and that PDF appears necessary to delay the evening neurons by ~3 h to their wild-type phase. Thus, in T32, PDF first delays the molecular cycling in the evening neurons, and then, as shown in previous studies, delays their neuronal firing rhythms to produce a total delay of ~7 h necessary for a wild-type evening activity phase. We conclude that PDF is crucial for appropriate phasing of <i>Drosophila</i> activity rhythm.
Project description:Molecular mechanisms responsible for 24 h circadian oscillations, entrainment to external cues, encoding of day length and the time-of-day effects have been well studied experimentally. However, it is still debated from the molecular network point of view whether each cell in suprachiasmatic nuclei harbors two molecular oscillators, where one tracks dawn and the other tracks dusk activities. A single cell dual morning and evening oscillator was proposed by Daan et al., based on the molecular network that has two sets of similar non-redundant per1/cry1 and per2/cry2 circadian genes and each can independently maintain their endogenous oscillations. Understanding of dual oscillator dynamics in a single cell at molecular level may provide insight about the circadian mechanisms that encodes day length variations and its response to external zeitgebers. We present here a realistic dual oscillator model of circadian rhythms based on the series of hypotheses proposed by Daan et al., in which they conjectured that the circadian genes per1/cry1 track dawn while per2/cry2 tracks dusk and they together constitute the morning and evening oscillators (dual oscillator). Their hypothesis also provides explanations about the encoding of day length in terms of molecular mechanisms of per/cry expression. We frame a minimal mathematical model with the assumption that per1 acts a morning oscillator and per2 acts as an evening oscillator and to support and interpret this assumption we fit the model to the experimental data of per1/per2 circadian temporal dynamics, phase response curves (PRC's), and entrainment phenomena under various light-dark conditions. We also capture different patterns of splitting phenomena by coupling two single cell dual oscillators with neuropeptides vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP) and arginine vasopressin (AVP) as the coupling agents and provide interpretation for the occurrence of splitting in terms of ME oscillators, though they are not required to explain the morning and evening oscillators. The proposed dual oscillator model based on Daan's hypothesis supports per1 and per2 playing the role of morning and evening oscillators respectively and this may be the first step towards the understanding of the core molecular mechanism responsible for encoding the day length.
Project description:The brain clock that drives circadian rhythms of locomotor activity relies on a multi-oscillator neuronal network. In addition to synchronizing the clock with day-night cycles, light also reformats the clock-driven daily activity pattern. How changes in lighting conditions modify the contribution of the different oscillators to remodel the daily activity pattern remains largely unknown. Our data in Drosophila indicate that light readjusts the interactions between oscillators through two different modes. We show that a morning s-LNv > DN1p circuit works in series, whereas two parallel evening circuits are contributed by LNds and other DN1ps. Based on the photic context, the master pacemaker in the s-LNv neurons swaps its enslaved partner-oscillator-LNd in the presence of light or DN1p in the absence of light-to always link up with the most influential phase-determining oscillator. When exposure to light further increases, the light-activated LNd pacemaker becomes independent by decoupling from the s-LNvs. The calibration of coupling by light is layered on a clock-independent network interaction wherein light upregulates the expression of the PDF neuropeptide in the s-LNvs, which inhibits the behavioral output of the DN1p evening oscillator. Thus, light modifies inter-oscillator coupling and clock-independent output-gating to achieve flexibility in the network. It is likely that the light-induced changes in the Drosophila brain circadian network could reveal general principles of adapting to varying environmental cues in any neuronal multi-oscillator system.
Project description:Circadian clocks control rhythms in physiology and behavior entrained to 24 h light-dark cycles. Despite of conserved general schemes, molecular circadian clockworks differ between insect species. With RNA interference (RNAi) we examined an ancient circadian clockwork in a basic insect, the hemimetabolous Madeira cockroach Rhyparobia maderae. With injections of double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) of cockroach period (Rm´per), timeless 1 (Rm´tim1), or cryptochrome 2 (Rm´cry2) we searched for essential components of the clock´s core negative feedback loop. Single injections of dsRNA of each clock gene into adult cockroaches successfully and permanently knocked down respective mRNA levels within ~two weeks deleting daytime-dependent mRNA rhythms for Rm´per and Rm´cry2. Rm´perRNAi or Rm´cry2RNAi affected total mRNA levels of both genes, while Rm´tim1 transcription was independent of both, also keeping rhythmic expression. Unexpectedly, circadian locomotor activity of most cockroaches remained rhythmic for each clock gene knockdown employed. It expressed weakened rhythms and unchanged periods for Rm´perRNAi and shorter periods for Rm´tim1RNAi and Rm´cry2RNAi.As a hypothesis of the cockroach´s molecular clockwork, a basic network of switched differential equations was developed to model the oscillatory behavior of clock cells expressing respective clock genes. Data were consistent with two synchronized main groups of coupled oscillator cells, a leading (morning) oscillator, or a lagging (evening) oscillator that couple via mutual inhibition. The morning oscillators express shorter, the evening oscillators longer endogenous periods based on core feedback loops with either PER, TIM1, or CRY2/PER complexes as dominant negative feedback of the clockwork. We hypothesize that dominant morning oscillator cells with shorter periods express PER, but not CRY2, or TIM1 as suppressor of clock gene expression, while two groups of evening oscillator cells with longer periods either comprise TIM1 or CRY2/PER suppressing complexes. Modelling suggests that there is an additional negative feedback next to Rm´PER in cockroach morning oscillator cells.
Project description:Studies of circadian locomotor rhythms in <i>Drosophila melanogaster</i> gave evidence to the preceding theoretical predictions on circadian rhythms. The molecular oscillator in flies, as in virtually all organisms, operates using transcriptional-translational feedback loops together with intricate post-transcriptional processes. Approximately150 pacemaker neurons, each equipped with a molecular oscillator, form a circuit that functions as the central pacemaker for locomotor rhythms. Input and output pathways to and from the pacemaker circuit are dissected to the level of individual neurons. Pacemaker neurons consist of functionally diverse subclasses, including those designated as the Morning/Master (M)-oscillator essential for driving free-running locomotor rhythms in constant darkness and the Evening (E)-oscillator that drives evening activity. However, accumulating evidence challenges this dual-oscillator model for the circadian circuit organization and propose the view that multiple oscillators are coordinated through network interactions. Here we attempt to provide further evidence to the revised model of the circadian network. We demonstrate that the disruption of molecular clocks or neural output of the M-oscillator during adulthood dampens free-running behavior surprisingly slowly, whereas the disruption of both functions results in an immediate arrhythmia. Therefore, clocks and neural communication of the M-oscillator act additively to sustain rhythmic locomotor output. This phenomenon also suggests that M-oscillator can be a pacemaker or a downstream path that passively receives rhythmic inputs from another pacemaker and convey output signals. Our results support the distributed network model and highlight the remarkable resilience of the <i>Drosophila</i> circadian pacemaker circuit, which can alter its topology to maintain locomotor rhythms.