The Pyrexia receptor potential channel mediates circadian clock synchronization to low temperature cycles in Drosophila melanogaster.

Proc Biol Scie
August 2013
Full Article
Wolfgang W
Simoni A
Gentile C
Stanewsky R

Circadian clocks are endogenous approximately 24 h oscillators that temporally regulate many physiological and behavioural processes. In order to be beneficial for the organism, these clocks must be synchronized with the environmental cycles on a daily basis. Both light : dark and the concomitant daily temperature cycles (TCs) function as Zeitgeber (‘time giver’) and efficiently entrain circadian clocks. The temperature receptors mediating this synchronization have not been identified. Transient receptor potential (TRP) channels function as thermo-receptors in animals, and here we show that the Pyrexia (Pyx) TRP channel mediates temperature synchronization in Drosophila melanogaster. Pyx is expressed in peripheral sensory organs (chordotonal organs), which previously have been implicated in temperature synchronization. Flies deficient for Pyx function fail to synchronize their behaviour to TCs in the lower range (16–20°C), and this deficit can be partially rescued by introducing a wild-type copy of the pyx gene. Synchronization to higher TCs is not affected, demonstrating a specific role for Pyx at lower temperatures. In addition, pyx mutants speed up their clock after being exposed to TCs. Our results identify the first TRP channel involved in temperature synchronization of circadian clocks.