nocte Is Required for Integrating Light and Temperature Inputs in Circadian Clock Neurons of Drosophila.

Current Biology
May 2018
Full Article
Chen C
Xu M
Anantaprakorn Y
Rossing M
Stanewsky R

Circadian clocks organize biological processes to occur at optimized times of day and thereby contribute to overall fitness. While the regular daily changes of environmental light and temperature synchronize circadian clocks, extreme external conditions can bypass the temporal constraints dictated by the clock. Despite advanced knowledge about how the daily light-dark changes synchronize the clock, relatively little is known with regard to how the daily temperature changes influence daily timing and how temperature and light signals are integrated. In Drosophila, a network of ∼150 brain clock neurons exhibit 24-hr oscillations of clock gene expression to regulate daily activity and sleep. We show here that a temperature input pathway from peripheral sensory organs, which depends on the gene nocte, targets specific subsets of these clock neurons to synchronize molecular and behavioral rhythms to temperature cycles. Strikingly, while nocte1 mutant flies synchronize normally to light-dark cycles at constant temperatures, the combined presence of light-dark and temperature cycles inhibits synchronization. nocte1 flies exhibit altered siesta sleep, suggesting that the sleep-regulating clock neurons are an important target for nocte-dependent temperature input, which dominates a parallel light input into these cells. In conclusion, we reveal a nocte-dependent temperature input pathway to central clock neurons and show that this pathway and its target neurons are important for the integration of sensory light and temperature information in order to temporally regulate activity and sleep during daily light and temperature cycles.