Electrophysiological and anatomical characterization of PDF-positive clock neurons in the intact adult Drosophila brain

J Neurophysiol. 2006 Jun;95(6):3955-60. doi: 10.1152/jn.00117.2006. Epub 2006 Mar 22.


Daily biological rhythms in both prokaryotes and eukaryotes are controlled by circadian clocks. In Drosophila, there is a good basic understanding of both the molecular and anatomical components of the clock. In this study we directly measure, for the first time, electrophysiological properties and anatomy of individual filled large lateral PDF-positive clock neurons, a cell group believed to be involved in synchronization of the clock in constant conditions. We find that the large PDF-positive neurons are morphologically homogeneous and that their resting membrane potential is modulated both by the clock and by light inputs. Expression of a leak channel, dORK-deltaC, which has been shown to disrupt circadian locomotor rhythms, hyperpolarizes these neurons, and blocks firing. These data imply that the firing properties of large PDF neurons are both regulated by and critical for clock function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Animals
  • Biological Clocks / physiology*
  • Brain / cytology*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Drosophila / physiology*
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Neurons / cytology*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Neuropeptides / metabolism*


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Neuropeptides
  • pdf protein, Drosophila