Mechanisms of clock output in the Drosophila circadian pacemaker system

Paul H. Taghert, Orie T. Shafer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


Molecular oscillations that underlie the circadian clock are coupled to different output signals by which daily rhythms in downstream events are evoked and/or synchronized. Here the authors review the literature that describes circadian output mechanisms in Drosophila. They begin at the most proximal level, within oscillator cells themselves, by surveying studies of rhythmic gene expression within Drosophila heads. Next the authors describe the several neuron groups that compose the circadian pacemaker network underlying rhythmic locomotor activity, and they detail current models of how that network is organized and coordinated. The authors outline the body of evidence that describes a role for the neuropeptide pigment dispersing factor (PDF) as a circadian transmitter in the fly brain. Finally, in the context of PDF, they consider studies that address mechanisms of signaling from the circadian pacemaker network to downstream neurons and nonneuronal cells that directly control rhythmic outputs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)445-457
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Biological Rhythms
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2006


  • Circadian rhythms
  • Clock output
  • Drosophila
  • E and M oscillators
  • Pacemaker neurons
  • Pigment dispersing factor


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