Circadian (≃-24-h) rhythms are governed by endogenous biochemical oscillators (clocks) that in a wide variety of organisms can be phase shifted (i.e., delayed or advanced) by brief exposure to light and changes in temperature. However, how changes in temperature reset circadian timekeeping mechanisms is not known. To begin to address this issue, we measured the effects of short-duration heat pulses on the protein and mRNA products from the Drosophila circadian clock genes period (per) and timeless (tim). Heat pulses at all times in a daily cycle elicited dramatic and rapid decreases in the levels of PER and TIM proteins. PER is sensitive to heat but not light, indicating that individual clock components can markedly differ in sensitivity to environmental stimuli. A similar resetting mechanism involving delays in the per-tim transcriptional-translational feedback loop likely underlies the observation that when heat and light signals are administered in the early night, they both-evoke phase delays in behavioral rhythms. However, whereas previous studies showed that the light-induced degradation of TIM in the late night is accompanied by stable phase advances in the temporal regulation of the PER and TIM biochemical rhythms, the heat-induced degradation of PER and TIM at these times in a daily cycle results in little, if any, long-term perturbation in the cycles of these clock proteins. Rather, the initial heat-induced degradation of PER and TIM in the late night is followed by a transient and rapid increase in the speed of the PER-TIM temporal program. The net effect of these heat-induced changes results in an oscillatory mechanism with a steady-state phase similar to that of the unperturbed control situation. These findings can account for the lack of apparent steady-state shifts in Drosophila behavioral rhythms by heat pulses applied in the late night and strongly suggest that stimulus-induced changes in the speed of circadian clocks can contribute to phase-shifting responses.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Cell Biology