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Cell. 2002 May 17;109(4):485-95.

Electrical silencing of Drosophila pacemaker neurons stops the free-running circadian clock.

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Department of Biology, New York University, New York 10003, USA.


Electrical silencing of Drosophila circadian pacemaker neurons through targeted expression of K+ channels causes severe deficits in free-running circadian locomotor rhythmicity in complete darkness. Pacemaker electrical silencing also stops the free-running oscillation of PERIOD (PER) and TIMELESS (TIM) proteins that constitutes the core of the cell-autonomous molecular clock. In contrast, electrical silencing fails to abolish PER and TIM oscillation in light-dark cycles, although it does impair rhythmic behavior. On the basis of these findings, we propose that electrical activity is an essential element of the free-running molecular clock of pacemaker neurons along with the transcription factors and regulatory enzymes that have been previously identified as required for clock function.

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