Electrical activity can impose time of day on the circadian transcriptome of pacemaker neurons

Dogukan Mizrak, Marc Ruben, Gabrielle N. Myers, Kahn Rhrissorrakrai, Kristin C. Gunsalus, Justin Blau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Circadian (∼24 hr) rhythms offer one of the best examples of how gene expression is tied to behavior. Circadian pacemaker neurons contain molecular clocks that control 24 hr rhythms in gene expression that in turn regulate electrical activity rhythms to control behavior. Results: Here we demonstrate the inverse relationship: there are broad transcriptional changes in Drosophila clock neurons (LNvs) in response to altered electrical activity, including a large set of circadian genes. Hyperexciting LN vs creates a morning-like expression profile for many circadian genes while hyperpolarization leads to an evening-like transcriptional state. The electrical effects robustly persist in per0 mutant LNvs but not in cyc0 mutant LNvs, suggesting that neuronal activity interacts with the transcriptional activators of the core circadian clock. Bioinformatic and immunocytochemical analyses suggest that CREB family transcription factors link LNv electrical state to circadian gene expression. Conclusions: The electrical state of a clock neuron can impose time of day to its transcriptional program. We propose that this acts as an internal zeitgeber to add robustness and precision to circadian behavioral rhythms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1871-1880
Number of pages10
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number20
StatePublished - Oct 23 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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