Neuroanatomical details of the lateral neurons of Drosophila melanogaster support their functional role in the circadian system

Frank K. Schubert, Nicolas Hagedorn, Taishi Yoshii, Charlotte Helfrich-Förster, Dirk Rieger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)


Drosophila melanogaster is a long-standing model organism in the circadian clock research. A major advantage is the relative small number of about 150 neurons, which built the circadian clock in Drosophila. In our recent work, we focused on the neuroanatomical properties of the lateral neurons of the clock network. By applying the multicolor-labeling technique Flybow we were able to identify the anatomical similarity of the previously described E2 subunit of the evening oscillator of the clock, which is built by the 5th small ventrolateral neuron (5th s-LNv) and one ITP positive dorsolateral neuron (LNd). These two clock neurons share the same spatial and functional properties. We found both neurons innervating the same brain areas with similar pre- and postsynaptic sites in the brain. Here the anatomical findings support their shared function as a main evening oscillator in the clock network like also found in previous studies. A second quite surprising finding addresses the large lateral ventral PDF-neurons (l-LNvs). We could show that the four hardly distinguishable l-LNvs consist of two subgroups with different innervation patterns. While three of the neurons reflect the well-known branching pattern reproduced by PDF immunohistochemistry, one neuron per brain hemisphere has a distinguished innervation profile and is restricted only to the proximal part of the medulla-surface. We named this neuron “extra” l-LNv (l-LNvx). We suggest the anatomical findings reflect different functional properties of the two l-LNv subgroups.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1209-1231
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - May 1 2018


  • Drosophila melanogaster
  • RRID: AB_141780
  • RRID: AB_2314041
  • RRID: AB_2314242
  • RRID: AB_2315311
  • RRID: AB_2315460
  • RRID: AB_2534096
  • RRID: AB_2534121
  • RRID: AB_2535804
  • RRID: AB_2535812
  • RRID: AB_2536186
  • RRID: AB_2536611
  • RRID: AB_300798
  • RRID: AB_760350
  • circadian clock neurons
  • flybow
  • morphology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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