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dTRPA1 Modulates Afternoon Peak of Activity of Fruit Flies Drosophila melanogaster


Daily rhythms in Drosophila under semi-natural conditions (or SN) have received much recent attention. One of the striking differences in the behaviour of wild type flies under SN is the presence of an additional peak of activity in the middle of the day. This is referred to as the afternoon peak (A-peak) and is absent under standard laboratory regimes using gated light and temperature cues. Although previous reports identified the physical factors that contribute towards the A-peak there is no evidence for underlying molecular mechanisms or pathways that control A-peak. We report that the A-peak is mediated by thermosensitive dTRPA1 (drosophila Transient Receptor Potential- A1) ion channels as this peak is absent in dTRPA1 null mutants. Further, when natural cycles of light and temperature are simulated in the lab, we find that the amplitude of the A-peak is dTRPA1-dependent. Although a few circadian neurons express dTRPA1, we show that modulation of A-peak is primarily influenced by non-CRY dTRPA1 expressing neurons. Hence, we propose that A-peak of activity observed under SN is a temperature sensitive response in flies that is elicited through dTRPA1 receptor signalling.

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