Circadian Rhythms in Visual Responsiveness in the Behaviorally Arrhythmic Drosophila Clock Mutant ClkJrk

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An organism's biological day is characterized by a pattern of anticipatory physiological and behavioral changes that are governed by circadian clocks to align with the 24-h cycling environment. Here, we used flash electroretinograms (ERGs) and steady-state visually evoked potentials (SSVEPs) to examine how visual responsiveness in wild-type Drosophila melanogaster and the circadian clock mutant ClkJrk varies over circadian time. We show that the ERG parameters of wild-type flies vary over the circadian day, with a higher luminance response during the subjective night. The SSVEP response that assesses contrast sensitivity also showed a time-of-day dependence, including 2 prominent peaks within a 24-h period and a maximal response at the end of the subjective day, indicating a tradeoff between luminance and contrast sensitivity. Moreover, the behaviorally arrhythmic ClkJrk mutants maintained a circadian profile in both luminance and contrast sensitivity, but unlike the wild-types, which show bimodal profiles in their visual response, ClkJrk flies show a weakening of the bimodal character, with visual responsiveness tending to peak once a day. We conclude that the ClkJrk mutation mainly affects 1 of 2 functionally coupled oscillators and that the visual system is partially separated from the locomotor circadian circuits that drive bouts of morning and evening activity. As light exposure is a major mechanism for entrainment, our work suggests that a detailed temporal analysis of electrophysiological responses is warranted to better identify the time window at which circadian rhythms are most receptive to light-induced phase shifting.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Biological Rhythms
Early online date27 Nov 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Nov 2017

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© 2017 The Author(s) .


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