A growing body of evidence indicates significant sex differences in the circadian system, but little is known about how temporal organization of physiology and behavior differs between sexes. Drosophila is a powerful model system in which to study the neuronal basis of sexual dimorphism in timekeeping thanks to its well-characterized circadian clock neuron network and a highly conserved molecular oscillator.
Circadian Clock neurons in both mammals and insects express multiple transmitters, some of which function as local signals across defined synapses while others act as diffusible signals that act over large distances. Our research is focused on studying key peptidergic clock neurons in Drosophila to understand how two neuropeptides released from the same neuron can mediate distinct behavioral and physiological functions.
The circadian system regulates the timing of multiple molecular, physiological, metabolic, and behavioral phenomena. In Drosophila as in other species, most of the research on how the timekeeping system in the brain controls timing of behavioral outputs has been conducted in males, or sex was not included as a biological variable. The main circadian pacemaker neurons in Drosophila release the neuropeptide Pigment Dispersing Factor (PDF), which functions as a key synchronizing factor in the network with complex effects on other clock neurons.
Thank you to everyone in the Biology Department!
Thank you very much Kensuke Futai and Patrick Emery for the invitation!