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PLoS Genet. 2018 Jun 7;14(6):e1007433. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1007433. eCollection 2018 Jun.

Calcium and cAMP directly modulate the speed of the Drosophila circadian clock.

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Centro Interdisciplinario de Neurociencia de Valparaíso, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Valparaíso, Gran Bretaña 1111, Valparaíso, Chile.


Circadian clocks impose daily periodicities to animal behavior and physiology. At their core, circadian rhythms are produced by intracellular transcriptional/translational feedback loops (TTFL). TTFLs may be altered by extracellular signals whose actions are mediated intracellularly by calcium and cAMP. In mammals these messengers act directly on TTFLs via the calcium/cAMP-dependent transcription factor, CREB. In the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, calcium and cAMP also regulate the periodicity of circadian locomotor activity rhythmicity, but whether this is due to direct actions on the TTFLs themselves or are a consequence of changes induced to the complex interrelationship between different classes of central pacemaker neurons is unclear. Here we investigated this question focusing on the peripheral clock housed in the non-neuronal prothoracic gland (PG), which, together with the central pacemaker in the brain, controls the timing of adult emergence. We show that genetic manipulations that increased and decreased the levels of calcium and cAMP in the PG caused, respectively, a shortening and a lengthening of the periodicity of emergence. Importantly, knockdown of CREB in the PG caused an arrhythmic pattern of eclosion. Interestingly, the same manipulations directed at central pacemaker neurons caused arrhythmicity of eclosion and of adult locomotor activity, suggesting a common mechanism. Our results reveal that the calcium and cAMP pathways can alter the functioning of the clock itself. In the PG, these messengers, acting as outputs of the clock or as second messengers for stimuli external to the PG, could also contribute to the circadian gating of adult emergence.

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