PerspectiveCircadian Rhythms

Entrainment of the Drosophila Circadian Clock: More Heat Than Light

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Science's STKE  20 Nov 2007:
Vol. 2007, Issue 413, pp. pe65
DOI: 10.1126/stke.4132007pe65

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Circadian rhythms are produced by a biological clock that is synchronized (or entrained) by cycles of light and temperature. In Drosophila, light triggers the interaction of the photoreceptor cryptochrome (CRY) with the circadian clock protein timeless (TIM). The absence of this interaction in cryb mutants eliminates this entrainment mechanism. The abundance of TIM and period (PER) oscillate throughout the day, and they form a complex that moves to the nucleus to rhythmically repress transcription of the per and tim genes. Because the CRY:TIM interaction triggers rapid degradation of TIM, the phase of these molecular oscillations is reset by light, which thereby entrains the circadian clock. A study now shows that heat pulses trigger an association between CRY and PER:TIM, which suggests that CRY:PER:TIM also contributes to entrainment by temperature. In wild-type flies, CRY:PER:TIM formation requires high temperatures and is only triggered by heat pulses in the early night, but in perL mutants, which exhibit a temperature-sensitive lengthening of circadian periods, CRY:PERL:TIM formation is triggered by lower temperatures and throughout the night. Because CRY:PER:TIM is formed under the same conditions that entrain circadian behavior, formation of the complex is likely to mediate entrainment by heat pulses. Whereas perL flies exhibit longer periods at higher temperatures, perL;cryb flies exhibit similar periods at different temperatures, which suggests that an altered interaction between CRY and PERL:TIM contributes to a lack of temperature compensation. Future work should determine how the interaction between CRY and PER:TIM entrains rhythms to temperature and affects temperature compensation.

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