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J Biol Rhythms. 2000 Feb;15(1):13-30.

Involvement of the period gene in developmental time-memory: effect of the perShort mutation on phase shifts induced by light pulses delivered to Drosophila larvae.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA 02454 USA.


Phases of circadian locomotor activity rhythms of adult Drosophila reared in constant darkness have been shown to be set by a light stimulus delivered as early as the first-instar larval stage. This implies that a circadian clock functions continuously throughout postembryonic development. The clock genes period (per) and timeless (tim) are expressed cyclically in the larval central nervous system of Drosophila, and daily oscillations of per expression persist throughout metamorphosis in a group of cells, which gives rise to the pacemaker cells underlying locomotor activity rhythms of adults. Therefore, PER and TIM cyclings in these neurons may be responsible for the phenomenon of "larval time-memory." In the absence of any evidence for the involvement of these genes in such a developmental clock, and because circadian-pacemaker functions are underanalyzed in terms of the functions during development, the authors tested the time-memory of a fast-clock period mutant. They show that dark-reared perS mutant individuals as well as wild-type flies can be entrained as larvae and that a brief light pulse given to such entrained larvae can induce phase shifts in animals of either genotype. However, the direction and magnitude of phase shifts were different between wild type and perS, suggesting that a clock under the control of period gene participates in the regulation of developmental time-memory. The authors show that the relevant clock can be entrained by two light input pathways, one involving the phospholipase C encoded by the norpA gene, the other mediated by the blue-light receptor cryptochrome. Phase shifts of molecular oscillations during the larval stage were smaller than those measured by adult behavior, suggesting molecularly transient responses during development.

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