Daily rhythms of behavior are controlled by a circuit of circadian pacemaking neurons. In Drosophila, 150 pacemakers participate in this network, and recent observations suggest that the network is divisible into M and E oscillators, which normally interact and synchronize. Sixteen oscillator neurons (the small and large lateral neurons [LNvs]) express a neuropeptide called pigment-dispersing factor (PDF) whose signaling is often equated with M oscillator output. Given the significance of PDF signaling to numerous aspects of behavioral and molecular rhythms, determining precisely where and how signaling via the PDF receptor (PDFR) occurs is now a central question in the field. Here we show that GAL4-mediated rescue of pdfr phenotypes using a UAS-PDFR transgene is insufficient to provide complete behavioral rescue. In contrast, we describe a approximately 70-kB PDF receptor (pdfr) transgene that does rescue the entire pdfr circadian behavioral phenotype. The transgene is widely but heterogeneously expressed among pacemakers, and also among a limited number of non-pacemakers. Our results support an important hypothesis: the small LNv cells directly target a subset of the other crucial pacemaker neurons cells. Furthermore, expression of the transgene confirms an autocrine feedback signaling by PDF back to PDF-expressing cells. Finally, the results present an unexpected PDF receptor site: the large LNv cells appear to target a population of non-neuronal cells that resides at the base of the eye.
(c) 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.