Cognition, Behavior, and Memory
Author: Ivana Ducrey | Email: email@example.com
Ivana Ducrey 1°, Nara Muraro 1°
The circadian oscillator of Drosophila is composed of around 150 clock neurons expressing molecular components, called clock genes, which coordinate the oscillation of gene expression and physiological parameters with a period close to 24 hours. A subgroup of clock neurons, called ventral lateral neurons (LNvs), is characterized by the expression of the neuropeptide Pigment Dispersing Factor (PDF) and plays a fundamental role in controling alertness. The LNvs are essential for the regulation of sleep/wake behavior via a neuronal circuit still under study. Previous work from our lab identified Ork1, a potassium open rectifier channel, as a potential element in the physiology of the LNvs. We observed that downregulation of this channel exclusively in LNvs causes a significant lengthening of the free running period and a reduction of overall rhythmicity under constant conditions. Due to its properties as a leak potassium conductance, Ork1 overexpression has been extensively used as a genetic tool for neuronal silencing. However, little has been studied regarding its canonical function in the tissues where it is naturally expressed. Therefore, the aim of this project is to characterize the endogenous role of neuronal Ork1 and its effects on circadian rhythms and sleep control. As a first approach we began to explore the effect of Ork1 downregulation in determining behavioral outputs. Future work will study Ork1 effects on LNvs physiology using patch-clamp electrophysiology.