Animals have sophisticated homeostatic controls. While mammalian body temperature fluctuates throughout the day, small ectotherms, such as Drosophila achieve a body temperature rhythm (BTR) through their preference of environmental temperature. Here, we demonstrate that pigment dispersing factor (PDF) neurons play an important role in setting preferred temperature before dawn. We show that small lateral ventral neurons (sLNvs), a subset of PDF neurons, activate the dorsal neurons 2 (DN2s), the main circadian clock cells that regulate temperature preference rhythm (TPR). The number of temporal contacts between sLNvs and DN2s peak before dawn. Our data suggest that the thermosensory anterior cells (ACs) likely contact sLNvs via serotonin signaling. Together, the ACs-sLNs-DN2s neural circuit regulates the proper setting of temperature preference before dawn. Given that sLNvs are important for sleep and that BTR and sleep have a close temporal relationship, our data highlight a possible neuronal interaction between body temperature and sleep regulation.
Keywords: D. melanogaster; DN2 neurons; PDF neurons; body temperature; circadian rhythms; neuroscience; temperature preference behavior; thermosensory neurons.