This paper discusses circadian output in terms of the signaling mechanisms used by circadian pacemaker neurons. In mammals, the suprachiasmatic nucleus houses a clock controlling several rhythmic events. This nucleus contains one or more pacemaker circuits, and exhibits diversity in transmitter content and in axonal projections. In Drosophila, a comparable circadian clock is located among period -expressing neurons, a sub-set of which (called LN-vs) express the neuropeptide PDF. Genetic experiments indicate LN-vs are the primary pacemakers neurons controlling daily locomotion and that PDF is the principal circadian transmitter. Further definition of pacemaker properties in several model systems will provide a useful basis with which to describe circadian output mechanisms.
Copyright 2001 Academic Press.