A New Rhodopsin Influences Light-dependent Daily Activity Patterns of Fruit Flies.

Journal of Biological Rhythms
August 2017
Kistenpfennig C
Grebler R
Ogueta M
Hermann-Luibl C
Schlichting M
Stanewsky R
Senthilan PR
Helfrich-Förster C

Rhodopsin 7 ( Rh7), a new invertebrate Rhodopsin gene, was discovered in the genome of Drosophila melanogaster in 2000, but its function has remained elusive. We generated an Rh7 null mutant ( Rh70) by P element-mediated mutagenesis and found that an absence of Rh7 had significant effects on fly activity patterns during light-dark (LD) cycles: Rh70 mutants exhibited less morning activity and a longer siesta than wild-type controls. Consistent with these results, we found that Rh7 appears to be expressed in a few dorsal clock neurons that have been previously implicated in the control of the siesta. We also found putative Rh7 expression in R8 photoreceptor cells of the compound eyes and in the Hofbauer-Buchner eyelets, which have been shown to control the precise timing of locomotor activity. The absence of Rh7 alone impaired neither the flies' responses to constant white light nor the ability to follow phase shifts of white LD cycles. However, in blue light (470 nm), Rh70 mutants needed significantly longer to synchronize than wild-type controls, suggesting that Rh7 is a blue light-sensitive photopigment with a minor contribution to circadian clock synchronization. In combination with mutants that lacked additionally cryptochrome-based and/or eye-based light input to the circadian clock, the absence of Rh7 provoked slightly stronger effects.