The neuropeptide pigment-dispersing factor adjusts period and phase of Drosophila's clock

Taishi Yoshii, Corinna Wülbeck, Hana Sehadova, Shobi Veleri, Dominik Bichler, Ralf Stanewsky, Charlotte Helfrich-Förster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

194 Citations (Scopus)


The neuropeptide pigment-dispersing factor (PDF) is a key transmitter in the circadian clock of Drosophila melanogaster. PDF is necessary for robust activity rhythms and is thought to couple the circadian oscillations of the clock neurons. However, little is known about the action of PDF on individual clock neurons. Here, we combined the period-luciferase reporter system with immunolabeling of clock proteins in wild-type and Pdf 01 mutants to dissect the effects of PDF on specific subgroups of clock neurons. Additionally, PDF levels were elevated to higher than normal levels using specific neural mutants, and a correlation analysis of locomotor activity and clock protein staining served to determine the periods of specific clock cells. We found that PDF has multiple effects on the clock neurons: In some groups of clock neurons, PDF was required for maintaining the oscillations of individual cells, and in others, PDF was required for synchronous cycling of the individual members. Other clock neurons cycled with high amplitude in absence of PDF, but PDF affected their intrinsic clock speed. Sometimes PDF shortened and sometimes PDF lengthened period. Our observations indicate that PDF is crucial for adjusting cycling amplitude, period, and phase of the different players in the circadian clock. Under natural conditions PDF may be required for adapting Drosophila's clock to varying photoperiods. Indeed, we show here that Pdf 01 mutants are not able to adapt their activity to long photoperiods in a wild-type manner.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2597-2610
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Feb 25 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Circadian rhythms
  • Internal desynchronization
  • Neuropeptide
  • Period
  • Pigment-dispersing factor
  • Timeless

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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