Central and peripheral clocks are coupled by a neuropeptide pathway in Drosophila

Mareike Selcho, Carola Millán, Angelina Palacios-Muñoz, Franziska Ruf, Lilian Ubillo, Jiangtian Chen, Gregor Bergmann, Chihiro Ito, Valeria Silva, Christian Wegener, John Ewer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


Animal circadian clocks consist of central and peripheral pacemakers, which are coordinated to produce daily rhythms in physiology and behaviour. Despite its importance for optimal performance and health, the mechanism of clock coordination is poorly understood. Here we dissect the pathway through which the circadian clock of Drosophila imposes daily rhythmicity to the pattern of adult emergence. Rhythmicity depends on the coupling between the brain clock and a peripheral clock in the prothoracic gland (PG), which produces the steroid hormone, ecdysone. Time information from the central clock is transmitted via the neuropeptide, sNPF, to non-clock neurons that produce the neuropeptide, PTTH. These secretory neurons then forward time information to the PG clock. We also show that the central clock exerts a dominant role on the peripheral clock. This use of two coupled clocks could serve as a paradigm to understand how daily steroid hormone rhythms are generated in animals.

Original languageEnglish
Article number15563
JournalNature Communications
StatePublished - 30 May 2017
Externally publishedYes


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