Restoration of circadian behavioural rhythms by gene transfer in Drosophila

Nature. 1984;312(5996):752-4. doi: 10.1038/312752a0.


The per locus of Drosophila melanogaster has a fundamental role in the construction or maintenance of a biological clock. Three classes of per mutations have been identified: per mutants have circadian behavioural rhythms with a 29-h rather than a 24-h period, pers mutants have short-period rhythms of 19 h, and per mutants have no detectable circadian rhythms. Each of these mutations has a corresponding influence on the 55-s periodicity of male courtship song. Long- and short-period circadian rhythm phenotypes can also be obtained by altering the dosage of the wild-type gene: for example, females carrying only one dose of this X-linked gene have circadian rhythms with periodicities about 1 h longer than those carrying two doses. In a previous report, cloned DNA was used to localize several chromosomal rearrangement breakpoints that alter per locus function. The rearrangements all affected a 7-kilobase (kb) interval that encodes a 4.5-kb poly(A)+ RNA. We report here that when a 7.1-kb fragment from a per+ fly, including the sequences encoding the 4.5-kb transcript, is introduced into the genome of a per (arrhythmic) fly by P element-mediated transformation, circadian rhythmicity of behaviour such as eclosion and locomotor activity is restored. The transforming DNA complements per locus deletions and is transcribed, forming a single 4.5-kb poly(A)+ RNA comparable to that produced by wild-type flies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Circadian Rhythm* / radiation effects
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics
  • Drosophila melanogaster / physiology*
  • Genes, Regulator
  • Light
  • Motor Activity / radiation effects
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics


  • RNA, Messenger