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Curr Biol. 2008 Jan 22;18(2):R84-93. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2007.11.061.

Organization of the Drosophila circadian control circuit.

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  • 1Department of Cellular and Molecular Physiology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut 06520, USA. michael.nitabach@yale.edu

Abstract

Molecular genetics has revealed the identities of several components of the fundamental circadian molecular oscillator - an evolutionarily conserved molecular mechanism of transcription and translation that can operate in a cell-autonomous manner. Therefore, it was surprising when studies of circadian rhythmic behavior in the fruit fly Drosophila suggested that the normal operations of circadian clock cells, which house the molecular oscillator, in fact depend on non-cell-autonomous effects - interactions between the clock cells themselves. Here we review several genetic analyses that broadly extend that viewpoint. They support a model whereby the approximately 150 circadian clock cells in the brain of the fly are sub-divided into functionally discrete rhythmic centers. These centers alternatively cooperate or compete to control the different episodes of rhythmic behavior that define the fly's daily activity profile.

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