per mRNA cycling is locked to lights-off under photoperiodic conditions that support circadian feedback loop function.
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Circadian fluctuations in per mRNA and protein are central to the operation of a negative feedback loop that is necessary for setting the free-running period and for entraining the circadian oscillator to light-dark cycles. In this study, per mRNA cycling and locomotor activity rhythms were measured under different light and dark cycling regimes to determine how photoperiods affect the molecular feedback loop and circadian behavior, respectively. These experiments reveal that per mRNA peaks in abundance 4 h after lights-off in photoperiods of < or = 16 h, that, phase shifts in per mRNA cycling and behavioral rhythmicity occur rapidly after flies are transferred from one photoperiod to another, and that photoperiods longer than 20 h abolish locomotor activity rhythms and leave per mRNA at a median constitutive level. These results indicate that the per feedback loop uses lights-off as a phase reference point and suggest (along with previous findings for per01 and tim01) that per mRNA cycling is not regulated via simple negative feedback from the per protein.
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