Exquisite light sensitivity of Drosophila melanogaster cryptochrome.
ABSTRACT: Drosophila melanogaster shows exquisite light sensitivity for modulation of circadian functions in vivo, yet the activities of the Drosophila circadian photopigment cryptochrome (CRY) have only been observed at high light levels. We studied intensity/duration parameters for light pulse induced circadian phase shifts under dim light conditions in vivo. Flies show far greater light sensitivity than previously appreciated, and show a surprising sensitivity increase with pulse duration, implying a process of photic integration active up to at least 6 hours. The CRY target timeless (TIM) shows dim light dependent degradation in circadian pacemaker neurons that parallels phase shift amplitude, indicating that integration occurs at this step, with the strongest effect in a single identified pacemaker neuron. Our findings indicate that CRY compensates for limited light sensitivity in vivo by photon integration over extraordinarily long times, and point to select circadian pacemaker neurons as having important roles.
Project description:Animals partition their daily activity rhythms through their internal circadian clocks, which are synchronized by oscillating day-night cycles of light. The fruitfly Drosophila melanogaster senses day-night cycles in part through rhodopsin-dependent light reception in the compound eye and photoreceptor cells in the Hofbauer-Buchner eyelet. A more noteworthy light entrainment pathway is mediated by central pacemaker neurons in the brain. The Drosophila circadian clock is extremely sensitive to light. However, the only known light sensor in pacemaker neurons, the flavoprotein cryptochrome (Cry), responds only to high levels of light in vitro. These observations indicate that there is an additional light-sensing pathway in fly pacemaker neurons. Here we describe a previously uncharacterized rhodopsin, Rh7, which contributes to circadian light entrainment by circadian pacemaker neurons in the brain. The pacemaker neurons respond to violet light, and this response depends on Rh7. Loss of either cry or rh7 caused minor defects in photoentrainment, whereas loss of both caused profound impairment. The circadian photoresponse to constant light was impaired in rh7 mutant flies, especially under dim light. The demonstration that Rh7 functions in circadian pacemaker neurons represents, to our knowledge, the first role for an opsin in the central brain.
Project description:Circadian clocks integrate light and temperature input to remain synchronized with the day/night cycle. Although light input to the clock is well studied, the molecular mechanisms by which circadian clocks respond to temperature remain poorly understood. We found that temperature phase shifts Drosophila circadian clocks through degradation of the pacemaker protein TIM. This degradation is mechanistically distinct from photic CRY-dependent TIM degradation. Thermal TIM degradation is triggered by cytosolic calcium increase and CALMODULIN binding to TIM and is mediated by the atypical calpain protease SOL. This thermal input pathway and CRY-dependent light input thus converge on TIM, providing a molecular mechanism for the integration of circadian light and temperature inputs. Mammals use body temperature cycles to keep peripheral clocks synchronized with their brain pacemaker. Interestingly, downregulating the mammalian SOL homolog SOLH blocks thermal mPER2 degradation and phase shifts. Thus, we propose that circadian thermosensation in insects and mammals share common principles.
Project description:Circadian pacemakers are essential to synchronize animal physiology and behavior with the dayrationight cycle. They are self-sustained, but the phase of their oscillations is determined by environmental cues, particularly light intensity and temperature cycles. In Drosophila, light is primarily detected by a dedicated blue-light photoreceptor: CRYPTOCHROME (CRY). Upon light activation, CRY binds to the pacemaker protein TIMELESS (TIM) and triggers its proteasomal degradation, thus resetting the circadian pacemaker. To understand further the CRY input pathway, we conducted a misexpression screen under constant light based on the observation that flies with a disruption in the CRY input pathway remain robustly rhythmic instead of becoming behaviorally arrhythmic. We report the identification of more than 20 potential regulators of CRY-dependent light responses. We demonstrate that one of them, the chromatin-remodeling enzyme KISMET (KIS), is necessary for normal circadian photoresponses, but does not affect the circadian pacemaker. KIS genetically interacts with CRY and functions in PDF-negative circadian neurons, which play an important role in circadian light responses. It also affects daily CRY-dependent TIM oscillations in a peripheral tissue: the eyes. We therefore conclude that KIS is a key transcriptional regulator of genes that function in the CRY signaling cascade, and thus it plays an important role in the synchronization of circadian rhythms with the dayrationight cycle.
Project description:The Drosophila melanogaster circadian clock is generated by interlocked feedback loops, and null mutations in core genes such as period and timeless generate behavioral arrhythmicity in constant darkness. In light-dark cycles, the elevation in locomotor activity that usually anticipates the light on or off signals is severely compromised in these mutants. Light transduction pathways mediated by the rhodopsins and the dedicated circadian blue light photoreceptor cryptochrome are also critical in providing the circadian clock with entraining light signals from the environment. The cry(b) mutation reduces the light sensitivity of the fly's clock, yet locomotor activity rhythms in constant darkness or light-dark cycles are relatively normal, because the rhodopsins compensate for the lack of cryptochrome function. Remarkably, when we combined a period-null mutation with cry(b), circadian rhythmicity in locomotor behavior in light-dark cycles, as measured by a number of different criteria, was restored. This effect was significantly reduced in timeless-null mutant backgrounds. Circadian rhythmicity in constant darkness was not restored, and TIM protein did not exhibit oscillations in level or localize to the nuclei of brain neurons known to be essential for circadian locomotor activity. Therefore, we have uncovered residual rhythmicity in the absence of period gene function that may be mediated by a previously undescribed period-independent role for timeless in the Drosophila circadian pacemaker. Although we do not yet have a molecular correlate for these apparently iconoclastic observations, we provide a systems explanation for these results based on differential sensitivities of subsets of circadian pacemaker neurons to light.
Project description:Drosophila cryptochrome (CRY) is a key circadian photoreceptor that interacts with the period and timeless proteins (PER and TIM) in a light-dependent manner. We show here that a heat pulse also mediates this interaction, and heat-induced phase shifts are severely reduced in the cryptochrome loss-of-function mutant cry(b). The period mutant per(L) manifests a comparable CRY dependence and dramatically enhanced temperature sensitivity of biochemical interactions and behavioral phase shifting. Remarkably, CRY is also critical for most of the abnormal temperature compensation of per(L) flies, because a per(L); cry(b) strain manifests nearly normal temperature compensation. Finally, light and temperature act together to affect rhythms in wild-type flies. The results indicate a role for CRY in circadian temperature as well as light regulation and suggest that these two features of the external 24-h cycle normally act together to dictate circadian phase.
Project description:BACKGROUND. In humans, a single light exposure of 12 minutes and multiple-millisecond light exposures can shift the phase of the circadian pacemaker. We investigated the response of the human circadian pacemaker to a single 15-second or 2-minute light pulse administered during the biological night. METHODS. Twenty-six healthy individuals participated in a 9-day inpatient protocol that included assessment of dim light melatonin onset time (DLMO time) before and after exposure to a single 15-second (n = 8) or 2-minute (n = 12) pulse of bright light (9,500 lux; 4,100 K fluorescent) or control background dim light (<3 lux; n = 6). Phase shifts were calculated as the difference in clock time between the two phase estimates. RESULTS. Both 15-second and 2-minute exposures induced phase delay shifts [median (± SD)] of -34.8 ± 47.2 minutes and -45.4 ± 28.4 minutes, respectively, that were significantly (P = 0.04) greater than the control condition (advance shift: +22.3 ± 51.3 minutes) but were not significantly different from each other. Comparisons with historic data collected under the same conditions confirmed a nonlinear relationship between exposure duration and the magnitude of phase shift. CONCLUSIONS. Our results underscore the exquisite sensitivity of the human pacemaker to even short-duration single exposures to light. These findings may have real-world implications for circadian disruption induced by exposure to brief light stimuli at night. TRIAL REGISTRATION. The study was registered as a clinical trial on www.clinicaltrials.org, NCT #01330992. FUNDING. Funding for this study was provided by NSBRI HFP02802 and NIH P01-AG09975, R01-HL114088 (EBK), RC2-HL101340-0 (EBK, SWL, SAR, REK), K02-HD045459 (EBK), K24-HL105664 (EBK), T32-HL07901 (MSH, SAR), HL094654 (CAC), and AG044416 (JFD). The project described was supported by NIH grant 1UL1 TR001102-01, 8UL1TR000170-05, UL1 RR 025758, Harvard Clinical and Translational Science Center, from the National Center for Advancing Translational Science.
Project description:Organisms use the daily cycles of light and darkness to synchronize their internal circadian clocks with the environment. Because they optimize physiological processes and behavior, properly synchronized circadian clocks are thought to be important for the overall fitness. In Drosophila melanogaster, the circadian clock is synchronized with the natural environment by light-dependent degradation of the clock protein Timeless, mediated by the blue-light photoreceptor Cryptochrome (Cry). Here we report identification of a genetic variant, Veela, which severely disrupts this process, because these genetically altered flies maintain behavioral and molecular rhythmicity under constant-light conditions that usually stop the clock. We show that the Veela strain carries a natural timeless allele (ls-tim), which encodes a less-light-sensitive form of Timeless in combination with a mutant variant of the F-box protein Jetlag. However, neither the ls-tim nor the jetlag genetic variant alone is sufficient to disrupt light input into the central pacemaker. We show a strong interaction between Veela and cryptochrome genetic variants, demonstrating that the Jetlag, Timeless, and Cry proteins function in the same pathway. Veela also reveals a function for the two natural variants of timeless, which differ in their sensitivity to light. In combination with the complex array of retinal and extraretinal photoreceptors known to signal light to the pacemaker, this previously undescribed molecular component of photic sensitivity mediated by the two Timeless proteins reveals that an unexpectedly rich complexity underlies modulation of this process.
Project description:Circadian systems are entrained and phase shifted by light. In Drosophila, the model of light-mediated phase shifting begins with photon capture by CRYPTOCHROME (CRY) followed by rapid TIMELESS (TIM) degradation. In this study, we focused on phase delays and assayed TIM degradation within individual brain clock neurons in response to light pulses in the early night. Surprisingly, there was no detectable change in TIM staining intensity within the eight pacemaker s-LNvs. This indicates that TIM degradation within s-LNvs is not necessary for phase delays, and similar assays in other genotypes indicate that it is also not sufficient. In contrast, more dorsal circadian neurons appear light-sensitive in the early night. Because CRY is still necessary within the s-LNvs for phase shifting, the results challenge the canonical cell-autonomous molecular model and raise the question of how the pacemaker neuron transcription-translation clock is reset by light in the early night.
Project description: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.
Project description:The daily light-dark cycles represent a key signal for synchronizing circadian clocks. Both insects and mammals possess dedicated "circadian" photoreceptors but also utilize the visual system for clock resetting. In Drosophila, circadian clock resetting is achieved by the blue-light photoreceptor cryptochrome (CRY), which is expressed within subsets of the brain clock neurons. In addition, rhodopsin-expressing photoreceptor cells contribute to light synchronization. Light resets the molecular clock by CRY-dependent degradation of the clock protein Timeless (TIM), although in specific subsets of key circadian pacemaker neurons, including the small ventral lateral neurons (s-LNvs), TIM and Period (PER) oscillations can be synchronized by light independent of CRY and canonical visual Rhodopsin phototransduction. Here, we show that at least three of the seven Drosophila rhodopsins can utilize an alternative transduction mechanism involving the same ?-subunit of the heterotrimeric G protein operating in canonical visual phototransduction (Gq). Surprisingly, in mutants lacking the canonical phospholipase C-? (PLC-?) encoded by the no receptor potential A (norpA) gene, we uncovered a novel transduction pathway using a different PLC-? encoded by the Plc21C gene. This novel pathway is important for behavioral clock resetting to semi-natural light-dark cycles and mediates light-dependent molecular synchronization within the s-LNv clock neurons. The same pathway appears to be responsible for norpA-independent light responses in the compound eye. We show that Rhodopsin 5 (Rh5) and Rh6, present in the R8 subset of retinal photoreceptor cells, drive both the long-term circadian and rapid light responses in the eye.