Neuropeptides control many behaviors, including circadian rhythms. However, because monitoring neuropeptide release in the brain is challenging, analysis of peptidergic circuits often has relied on monitoring surrogates in the soma based on the paradigm that synaptic transmission is mediated exclusively by Ca2+ influx induced by propagating action potentials. Here live imaging demonstrates that neuropeptide release by Drosophila small ventrolateral (s-LNv) clock neurons does not conform to this paradigm. First, neuropeptide release from terminals peaks hours after sunrise, which was not evident from electrical and Ca2+ data. Second, inconsistent with global release by propagating action potentials, release from terminals is preceded by hours by release from the soma, a compartment not usually considered in peptidergic transmission. The timing of release from the two neuronal compartments reflects different mechanisms: terminals require Ca2+ influx, as expected with coupling to electrical activity, while somatic release is based on intracellular IP3 signaling. Upon cell specific disruption of the somatic mechanism, daily neuropeptide release from terminals remains rhythmic and the period of daily locomotor activity is unaffected, but behavioral rhythmicity is reduced. Thus, rhythmic bouts of anatomically, mechanistically and temporally distinct release from a single neuron control neuropeptide dependent features of circadian behavior.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience