The mechanisms by which clock neurons in the Drosophila brain confer an ∼24-hr rhythm onto locomotor activity are unclear, but involve the neuropeptide diuretic hormone 44 (DH44), an ortholog of corticotropin-releasing factor. Here we identified DH44 receptor 1 as the relevant receptor for rest:activity rhythms and mapped its site of action to hugin-expressing neurons in the subesophageal zone (SEZ). We traced a circuit that extends from Dh44-expressing neurons in the pars intercerebralis (PI) through hugin+ SEZ neurons to the ventral nerve cord. Hugin neuropeptide, a neuromedin U ortholog, also regulates behavioral rhythms. The DH44 PI-Hugin SEZ circuit controls circadian locomotor activity in a daily cycle but has minimal effect on feeding rhythms, suggesting that the circadian drive to feed can be separated from circadian locomotion. These findings define a linear peptidergic circuit that links the clock to motor outputs to modulate circadian control of locomotor activity.
Keywords: DH44; Drosophila; Hugin; behavior; circadian rhythms; circuits; feeding; locomotion.
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