Thermosensitive alternative splicing senses and mediates temperature adaptation in Drosophila

Elife. 2019 Nov 8:8:e44642. doi: 10.7554/eLife.44642.


Circadian rhythms are generated by the cyclic transcription, translation, and degradation of clock gene products, including timeless (tim), but how the circadian clock senses and adapts to temperature changes is not completely understood. Here, we show that temperature dramatically changes the splicing pattern of tim in Drosophila. We found that at 18°C, TIM levels are low because of the induction of two cold-specific isoforms: tim-cold and tim-short and cold. At 29°C, another isoform, tim-medium, is upregulated. Isoform switching regulates the levels and activity of TIM as each isoform has a specific function. We found that tim-short and cold encodes a protein that rescues the behavioral defects of tim01 mutants, and that flies in which tim-short and cold is abrogated have abnormal locomotor activity. In addition, miRNA-mediated control limits the expression of some of these isoforms. Finally, data that we obtained using minigenes suggest that tim alternative splicing might act as a thermometer for the circadian clock.

Keywords: D. melanogaster; RNA; circadian; neuroscience; splicing; temperature; timeless.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / genetics*
  • Alternative Splicing*
  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Cell Line
  • Circadian Clocks
  • Circadian Rhythm
  • Drosophila Proteins / genetics*
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism
  • Drosophila melanogaster / cytology
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Profiling / methods
  • MicroRNAs / genetics
  • Motor Activity / genetics
  • Protein Isoforms / genetics
  • Protein Isoforms / metabolism
  • Temperature*


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • MicroRNAs
  • Protein Isoforms
  • tim protein, Drosophila

Associated data

  • GEO/GSE124134
  • GEO/GSE124135
  • GEO/GSE124141
  • GEO/GSE123142
  • GEO/GSE124200
  • GEO/GSE124201