Peripheral Conflict

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The amplitude was measured from the smoothed trace as the mean difference between the peak and trough across multiple days Suppl.

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Finally, autocorrelation analysis of the raw signal was used to calculate rhythm strength as the height of the third peak in the correlogram divided by the confidence interval see Levine et al. As the rhythm strength analysis is sensitive to the amount of data provided, exactly 2 days were used for all analyses of this type. Free-running period was estimated as the location of the third peak in the correlogram divided by 2 see Levine et al. Separate sections of the experimental regime described in Results were quantified as separate experimental regions of interest ROIs.

In this way, data loss resulting from fly death during the experiment affected only subsequent ROIs, leaving previous ROIs intact and thus improving the overall power of our analysis. Note that sample n numbers within a genotype accordingly vary between different ROIs during a single experiment.

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We studied bioluminescence changes using the XLG-luc transgene. XLG-luc contains the endogenous period promoter, driving the expression of a period - luciferase fusion gene. However, the construct is widely used as a peripheral clock reporter, since signals from the central clock are expected to be overwhelmed by those from the peripheral per -expressing cells Glaser and Stanewsky, ; Sehadova et al. S3 Veleri et al. Nevertheless, exactly which per- expressing tissues predominantly contribute to the bioluminescence signal of XLG-luc flies is not known.

To visualize the source of the luciferase reporter signal measured in our time series assays, we performed whole-animal bioluminescence imaging on flies that had been reared in circadian light and temperature conditions Fig. Bioluminescence levels varied markedly between time points for wild-type flies in both LD and TC Fig. However, a similar change in cry mutants was observed only during TC Fig. This finding was confirmed in our own bioluminescence time series assays Suppl.

In both genotypes, we saw an overwhelming majority of signal emanating from the abdomen and eyes, consistent with that observed in other per-luc transgenics Fig. We thus conclude that in vivo assays monitoring bioluminescence changes in XLG-luc reporter lines will be dominated by signals from these peripheral clock components.

Recent work has shown that a 6-h misalignment between LD and square-wave-like TC can disrupt normal circadian locomotor patterns in Canton-S wild-type flies, characterized by a loss of evening anticipation. This P behavior is also associated with a breakdown of molecular oscillations in central clock neurons. Figure 2. Locomotor behavior during sensory conflict using square-wave and naturalistic TC. C, D New data in which a naturalistic temperature regime was used to generate sensory conflict.

Locomotor data for each plot were rescaled in the range of 0 and 1 to facilitate profile comparisons. Mean raw activity across days total beam breaks per 5 min per fly was A Black dashed lines highlight presence or absence of evening anticipation. Data in A and B adapted from Harper et al.

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As expected, there were some differences in the behavioral pattern between misaligned LD:TC using naturalistic TC compared with that using rectangular TC. XLG-luc flies did not exhibit the sharp activity increases at the beginning of the warm phase, nor did they show a rapid decrease in activity after lights-off compare Fig. Instead they showed a smoother activity increase during the increasing temperature phase, punctuated by the lights-on transition, and a similarly smooth activity decrease during the decreasing temperature phase after lights-off Fig.

We attribute these minor differences to the fact that we applied naturalistic temperature cycles cf.

Yoshii et al. We next sought to investigate the response of the peripheral clock system during the P behavior induced under our conflicting 6-h phase-shifted LD:TC. To investigate potentially richer forms of conflict, we conducted further experiments in which the period of free-running conditions was then followed by either aligned or misaligned LD:TC Fig.


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These experiments were performed in XLG-luc flies in both wild-type and cry b mutant genetic backgrounds. Figure 3. Bioluminescence recordings. Shaded regions show SEM.

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All bioluminescence readings recorded at a resolution of 1 h. D Quantification of bioluminescence signal peak phase left , amplitude middle , and rhythmicity right during aligned and misaligned LD:TC. Analysis of the aligned condition used adult flies taken from the last full 2 days of aligned LD:TC Fig. Analysis of the misaligned condition used flies taken from the last full 2 days of misaligned LD:TC Fig. Data points beyond the whiskers are plotted as outliers. During aligned conditions, both wild-type and cry b flies displayed rhythms of bioluminescence, peaking during the night as defined by both light and temperature Fig.

This observation agrees with previously reported PER protein oscillations in wild-type flies during unimodal LD and TC entrainment Glaser and Stanewsky, and also agrees with our own observations Suppl. During 6-h delay of LD relative to TC, peak bioluminescence in wild-type flies was also delayed by approximately 6 h Fig.

However, a similar shift was not observed in the cry b background, which instead showed no change in peak phase Fig. Together, these results indicate that peripheral PER rhythms in wild-type flies entrain preferentially to light during conflicting LD:TC, whereas cry b flies entrain preferentially to temperature. This directly contrasts results obtained in the central clock of the fly brain. Strikingly, no significant effect of misaligned LD:TC was observed on the amplitude or rhythmicity in either wild-type or cry mutant flies when pooling across experiments Fig.

This again contrasts with findings in the central clock neurons of wild-type flies under similar environmental conflicts, in which the amplitude of PER oscillations was severely dampened during misaligned conditions Harper et al. In fact, the amplitude of peripheral clock bioluminescence rhythms was consistently larger in wild-type flies compared with cry b mutants Fig. Because we did observe a comparable degree of P behavior, suggesting a similar breakdown of PER oscillations in the central clock neurons as described previously Fig.

In contrast, removal of CRY has similar consequences for both central and peripheral oscillators, rendering them preferentially sensitive to temperature cycles. During free-running conditions, cry -negative flies became arrhythmic, consistent with the reported role of Cryptochrome in the core clock machinery of peripheral clocks Collins et al. The cry -positive flies, in contrast, continued to show bioluminescence rhythms after both aligned and misaligned conditions.

These free-running rhythms then gradually dampened with time Fig. Median free-running period of wild-type flies after aligned and misaligned LD:TC was This suggests no lasting effect of sensory conflict on peripheral clock rhythms. An equivalent analysis for cry mutant flies was made impossible by the complete lack of free-running rhythmicity. Sensory entrainment of circadian systems is a multimodal problem. We used a per-luciferase transgenic reporter to study the combination of light and temperature zeitgebers in peripheral clocks of Drosophila.

We showed that the responses of peripheral clocks during conflicting entrainment conditions differ markedly from those of the central clock, further highlighting the diversity within the wider circadian system. Disruptions of locomotor behavior in wild-type flies leading to P behavior have been shown to result from a 6-h delay of LD relative to square-wave-like TC Harper et al.

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We here report that evening locomotor behavior is also altered during equivalent misalignments under more naturalistic temperature fluctuations. Indeed, the activity profile that results from a more naturalistic form of sensory conflict using ramped TC closely mimics the previously reported P behavior, displaying a similar breakdown of evening anticipation, yet without the abrupt changes in activity observed previously at the end of thermo-phase and photo-phase.


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While conflict between light and temperature caused behavioral disruptions in XLG-luc control flies, we did not see an associated disruption of molecular cycling in the peripheral clocks using an XLG-luc reporter assay: A 6-h misaligned LD:TC results in an equivalent phase shift of PER rhythms i. In further contrast to the central clock, the amplitude of PER oscillations is not significantly changed between aligned and misaligned conditions.

Taken together, this strongly suggests that during sensory conflict, peripheral clocks in flies entrain preferentially, perhaps exclusively, to light. Peripheral clocks thus exhibit a separate, and distinct, response to sensory conflict compared with that observed in the central clock neurons. Future work would benefit from an investigation into how this response is affected by varying environmental phase relationships.

One outstanding question, for example, is whether the peripheral clock has no effect on locomotor behavior at all. Indeed, our own finding that peripheral PER rhythms in control flies display no change during sensory conflict other than shifting their phase with the light cue might indicate that the circadian anomalies observed during sensory conflict result purely from disruptions of the central clock.

However, an alternative explanation could be that the P-like behavior we have observed emerges from a discrepancy between the peripheral and central clock networks. If peripheral clocks do contribute to locomotor behavior, then activity under sensory conflict will necessarily be driven by 2 out-of-sync circadian networks. A potential route for future research would be to use the kinases Doubletime and Shaggy to generate period discrepancies between peripheral and central clocks, as was used previously to assess autonomy between neuronal subgroups within the central clock network Yao and Shafer, Another option would be to simultaneously measure peripheral clock bioluminescence and activity in individual flies and investigate any subtle correlations therein Guo et al.

Our bioluminescence imaging data show that XLG-luc —a previously used transgenic reporter line—is expressed primarily in the eyes and abdomen. Thus, our findings predominantly relate to peripheral clocks located in these body parts. The peripheral circadian system, however, exhibits much heterogeneity, specifically with regard to the degree of independence from the central clock Ito and Tomioka, It is not yet clear how our findings translate to other areas in the wider peripheral network.

A similar rationale could be applied to the role of Cryptochrome in peripheral clocks. In this study, we show that light dominance in the periphery depends on cry expression. Whether the cry dependence of this light dominance reflects a cry dependence within the peripheral clock itself or elsewhere in the circadian system, however, remains unclear.

The question of why the peripheral clock network might respond differently to sensory conflict, when compared with the central clock, remains unclear. The central clock is a highly interconnected network with strong coupling through the action of pigment-dispersing factor PDF e. Thus, a dissociation between oscillatory components, resulting from sensory conflict, is a potential cause for the disruptions observed. Less is known about connectivity in the peripheral clock system. The resilience of these oscillators to sensory conflict may therefore hint at a more independent network architecture, with less coupling between subparts.

This theory lends itself to modeling approaches; weakly coupled oscillator theory, for example, might provide a useful framework to infer coupling strengths and guide experimentation. Equally, from a more Bayesian perspective, we might ask why the central clock does not appear to coordinate peripheral gut and eye clocks during conflict. Perhaps an uncertainty in central clock oscillations, reflected in their reduced amplitude, is projected to the periphery in the form of a low precision signal, thus leading to more autonomous behavior in these peripheral clocks.

Such hypotheses could explain aspects of the heterogeneity observed throughout the wider clock network.

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We anticipate the benefits to come from embracing these mathematical viewpoints, alongside more holistic experimental studies of circadian systems in multisensory environments. We thank David Whitmore for permitting the use of his bioluminescent microscope and Mechthild Rosing for experimental support. We thank Jason Somers for continued scientific discussions, and we express our deep gratitude to Andrew Millar, who generously donated 2 bioluminescence setups to the lab of J. This work was further supported by a grant from the European Research Council to J. Author Contributions R.

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