A Peptidergic Circuit Links the Circadian Clock to Locomotor Activity

Anna N. King, Annika F. Barber, Amelia E. Smith, Austin P. Dreyer, Divya Sitaraman, Michael N. Nitabach, Daniel J. Cavanaugh, Amita Sehgal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


The mechanisms by which clock neurons in the Drosophila brain confer an ∼24-hr rhythm onto locomotor activity are unclear, but involve the neuropeptide diuretic hormone 44 (DH44), an ortholog of corticotropin-releasing factor. Here we identified DH44 receptor 1 as the relevant receptor for rest:activity rhythms and mapped its site of action to hugin-expressing neurons in the subesophageal zone (SEZ). We traced a circuit that extends from Dh44-expressing neurons in the pars intercerebralis (PI) through hugin+ SEZ neurons to the ventral nerve cord. Hugin neuropeptide, a neuromedin U ortholog, also regulates behavioral rhythms. The DH44 PI-Hugin SEZ circuit controls circadian locomotor activity in a daily cycle but has minimal effect on feeding rhythms, suggesting that the circadian drive to feed can be separated from circadian locomotion. These findings define a linear peptidergic circuit that links the clock to motor outputs to modulate circadian control of locomotor activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1915-1927.e5
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jul 10 2017
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


  • DH44
  • Drosophila
  • Hugin
  • behavior
  • circadian rhythms
  • circuits
  • feeding
  • locomotion


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