Separate sets of cerebral clock neurons are responsible for light and temperature entrainment of Drosophila circadian locomotor rhythms

Yoko Miyasako, Yujiro Umezaki, Kenji Tomioka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

99 Citations (Scopus)


The fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster shows a bimodal circadian locomotor rhythm with peaks at lights-on and before lights-off, which are regulated by multiple clocks in the brain. Even under light-dark cycles, the timing of the evening peak is highly dependent on temperature, starting earlier under lower ambient temperature but terminating almost at the same time. In the present study, using behavioral and immunohistochemical assays, the authors show that separate groups of clock neurons, either light-entrainable or temperature-entrainable, form a functional system driving the locomotor rhythm. When subjected to a light cycle combined with a temperature cycle advanced by 6 h relative to the light cycle, the dorsally located neurons (DNs) and lateral posterior neurons (LPNs) shifted their phase of TIMELESS expression, but the laterally located protocerebral neurons (LNs) basically maintained their original phase. Thus, the LNs seem to be preferentially light-entrainable and the DNs and LPNs to be primarily temperature-entrainable. In pdf01 mutant flies that lack the neuropeptide PDF in the ventral groups of LNs, the onset of the evening peak was greatly advanced even under synchronized light and temperature cycles and was shifted even more than in wild-type flies in response to a 6-h phase shift of the temperature cycle, suggesting that ventral LNs have a strong impact on the phase of the other cells. It seems likely that the 2 sets of clock cells with different entrainability to light and temperature, and the coupling between them, enable Drosophila to keep a proper phase relationship of circadian activity with respect to the daily light and temperature cycles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-126
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of biological rhythms
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2007


  • Circadian clock
  • Clock neuron
  • Drosophila
  • Entrainment
  • Locomotor rhythm
  • Temperature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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