Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Domino Clock

A gene called DOMINO regulates the body clock of fruit flies

20 January 2020

Domino Clock

Are you a morning lark or a night owl? It depends on your personal body clock, or circadian rhythm. For fruit flies, their daily cycles are controlled by a small cluster of just 75 clock neurons in each half of the brain, highlighted red and green here, which spread long ‘tails’ deep into the brain (magnified on the right). Cells turn certain genes on and off in a rhythmic pattern to maintain the steady tick of the body clock. This means that even in total darkness, flies wake up just before the sun is due to rise. A gene called DOMINO appears to be a ‘master controller’ of these regular activity patterns, as flies without the gene don’t wake up when they should. Removing DOMINO also leads to the loss of the long clock neuron tails (lower two rows), revealing new information about the molecular clockwork inside the fly brain.

Written by Kat Arney

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