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J Biol Rhythms. 2010 Dec;25(6):387-98. doi: 10.1177/0748730410381962.

Cryptochrome-positive and -negative clock neurons in Drosophila entrain differentially to light and temperature.

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Institute of Zoology, University of Regensburg, Regensburg, Germany.


The blue-light photoreceptive protein Cryptochrome (CRY) plays an important role in the light synchronization of the Drosophila circadian clock. Previously, we found that among the approximately 150 clock neurons, many but not all neurons express CRY. We speculated that the CRY-positive pacemaker neurons may be especially important for light entrainment, whereas the CRY-negative neurons may be important for other environmental cues, for example, temperature. To investigate this hypothesis, we tested the entrainability of the clock neurons to out-of-phase light and temperature cycles. When light-dark or light-dim light cycles were shifted by 12 h with respect to temperature cycles, behavioral rhythms of wild-type flies were re-entrained by the light cycles. In this condition, we found that TIMELESS (TIM) level was strongly influenced by the temperature cycles in many CRY-negative clock neurons, suggesting that the CRY-negative neurons have higher sensitivity to temperature. Under the same conditions, cry-null mutants entrained to the temperature cycles or very slowly re-entrained to light-dark cycles. Our results suggest that there are 2 types of clock neurons having differential sensitivities to light and temperature, and CRY is a key component for the preferential entrainment to light.

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