Flies by night: Effects of changing day length on Drosophila's circadian clock

Curr Biol. 2004 Mar 9;14(5):424-32. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2004.02.038.


In Drosophila, two intersecting molecular loops constitute an autoregulatory mechanism that oscillates with a period close to 24 hr. These loops touch when proteins from one loop, PERIOD (PER) and TIMELESS (TIM), repress the transcription of their parent genes, period (per) and timeless (tim), by blocking positive transcription factors from the other loop. The arrival of PER and TIM into the nucleus of a clock cell marks the timing of this interaction between the two loops; thus, control of PER:TIM nuclear accumulation is a central component of the molecular model of clock function. If a light pulse occurs early in the night as the heterodimer accumulates in the nucleus of clock cells, TIM is degraded, PER is destabilized, and clock time is delayed. Alternatively, if TIM is degraded during the later part of the night, after peak accumulation, clock time advances. Current models state that the effect of a light pulse depends on the state of the PER:TIM oscillation, which turns on the changing levels of TIM. However, previous studies have shown that light:dark (LD) regimes mimicking seasonal changes cause behavioral adjustments while altering clock gene expression. This should be reflected in the adjustment of PER and TIM dynamics. We manipulated LD cycles to assess the effects of altered day length on PER and TIM dynamics in clock cells within the central brain as well as light-induced resetting of locomotor rhythms.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Circadian Rhythm / genetics*
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism
  • Drosophila melanogaster / physiology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Homeostasis / physiology*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Locomotion / physiology
  • Models, Molecular
  • Photoperiod*


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • tim protein, Drosophila