Dr. Donggen Luo: An extra-clock ultradian brain oscillator sustains circadian timekeeping



The master circadian clock generates 24-hour rhythms to orchestrate daily behavior, even running freely under constant conditions. Traditionally, the master clock is considered self-sufficient in sustaining free-running timekeeping via its cell-autonomous molecular clocks and interneuronal communications within the circadian neural network. Here, we find a set of bona fide ultradian oscillators in the Drosophila brain that support free-running timekeeping, despite being located outside the master clock circuit and lacking clock gene expression. These extra-clock electrical oscillators (xCEOs) generate cell-autonomous ultradian bursts, pacing widespread burst firing and promoting rhythmic resting membrane potentials in clock neurons via parallel monosynaptic connections. Silencing xCEOs disrupts daily electrical rhythms in clock neurons and impairs cycling of neuropeptide pigment dispersing factor, leading to the loss of free-running locomotor rhythms. Together, we conclude that the master clock is not self-sufficient to sustain free-running behavior rhythms but requires additional endogenous inputs to the clock from the extra-clock ultradian brain oscillators.

Original link: https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/sciadv.abo5506