GABA modulates Drosophila circadian clock neurons via GABAB receptors and decreases in calcium

J Neurobiol. 2005 Dec;65(3):225-40. doi: 10.1002/neu.20184.


Circadian clocks play vital roles in the control of daily rhythms in physiology and behavior of animals. In Drosophila, analysis of the molecular and behavioral rhythm has shown that the master clock neurons are entrained by sensory inputs and are synchronized with other clock neurons. However, little is known about the neuronal circuits of the Drosophila circadian system and the neurotransmitters that act on the clock neurons. Here, we provide evidence for a new neuronal input pathway to the master clock neurons, s-LN(v)s, in Drosophila that utilizes GABA as a slow inhibitory neurotransmitter. We monitored intracellular calcium levels in dissociated larval s-LN(v)s with the calcium-sensitive dye Fura-2. GABA decreased intracellular calcium in the s-LN(v)s and blocked spontaneous oscillations in calcium levels. The duration of this response was dose-dependent between 1 nM and 100 microM. The response to GABA was blocked by a metabotropic GABA(B) receptor (GABA(B)-R) antagonist, CGP54626, but not by an ionotropic receptor antagonist, picrotoxin. The GABA(B)-R agonist, 3-APMPA, produced a response similar to GABA. An antiserum against one of the Drosophila GABA(B)-Rs (GABA(B)-R2) labeled the dendritic regions of the s-LN(v)s in both adults and larvae, as well as the dissociated s-LN(v)s. We found that some GABAergic processes terminate at the dendrites of the LN(v)s, as revealed by GABA immunostaining and a GABA-specific GAL4 line (GAD1-gal4). Our results suggest that the s-LN(v)s receive slow inhibitory GABAergic inputs that decrease intracellular calcium of these clock neurons and block their calcium cycling. This response is mediated by postsynaptic GABA(B) receptors.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Blotting, Western / methods
  • Calcium / metabolism*
  • Cell Count
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Circadian Rhythm / drug effects*
  • Diagnostic Imaging
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drosophila
  • Drug Interactions
  • GABA Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects
  • Gene Expression Regulation / physiology
  • Glutamate Decarboxylase / metabolism
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Immunohistochemistry / methods
  • Isoenzymes / metabolism
  • Larva / cytology
  • Neurons / drug effects*
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Organophosphorus Compounds / pharmacology
  • Picrotoxin / pharmacology
  • Receptors, GABA-A / physiology*
  • Serotonin / pharmacology
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / pharmacology*


  • GABA Antagonists
  • Isoenzymes
  • Organophosphorus Compounds
  • Receptors, GABA-A
  • Picrotoxin
  • 3-aminopropyl(methyl)phosphinic acid
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • CGP 54626
  • Serotonin
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid
  • Glutamate Decarboxylase
  • glutamate decarboxylase 1
  • Calcium