A new role for cryptochrome in a Drosophila circadian oscillator

Nature. 2001 May 17;411(6835):313-7. doi: 10.1038/35077094.


Cryptochromes are flavin/pterin-containing proteins that are involved in circadian clock function in Drosophila and mice. In mice, the cryptochromes Cry1 and Cry2 are integral components of the circadian oscillator within the brain and contribute to circadian photoreception in the retina. In Drosophila, cryptochrome (CRY) acts as a photoreceptor that mediates light input to circadian oscillators in both brain and peripheral tissue. A Drosophila cry mutant, cryb, leaves circadian oscillator function intact in central circadian pacemaker neurons but renders peripheral circadian oscillators largely arrhythmic. Although this arrhythmicity could be caused by a loss of light entrainment, it is also consistent with a role for CRY in the oscillator. A peripheral oscillator drives circadian olfactory responses in Drosophila antennae. Here we show that CRY contributes to oscillator function and physiological output rhythms in the antenna during and after entrainment to light-dark cycles and after photic input is eliminated by entraining flies to temperature cycles. These results demonstrate a photoreceptor-independent role for CRY in the periphery and imply fundamental differences between central and peripheral oscillator mechanisms in Drosophila.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Clocks / genetics
  • Biological Clocks / physiology*
  • Brain / cytology
  • Brain / physiology
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology*
  • Cryptochromes
  • Darkness
  • Drosophila Proteins*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics
  • Drosophila melanogaster / physiology*
  • Extremities / physiology
  • Eye Proteins*
  • Flavoproteins / genetics
  • Flavoproteins / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Genes, Reporter / genetics
  • Light
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Phenotype
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Photoreceptor Cells, Invertebrate / metabolism
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • Smell / physiology
  • Temperature
  • Time Factors


  • Cry1 protein, mouse
  • Cry2 protein, mouse
  • Cryptochromes
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Eye Proteins
  • Flavoproteins
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • cry protein, Drosophila