An unusual cation channel mediates photic control of locomotion in Drosophila

Howard A. Nash*, Robert L. Scott, Bridget C. Lear, Ravi Allada

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


A unique family of putative ion channels that are related to voltage-gated sodium and calcium channels has been identified in genomic and cDNA studies of metazoans [1, 2]. Aside from evidence for expression of family members in the nervous system [2, 3], little is known about the operation of the channel or its functional significance. In the present study, this conserved family's sole Drosophila member, a gene known both as CG1517 [4, 5] and as Dmα1U [1], is shown to correspond to the narrow abdomen (na) gene and is the locus of a set of mutations that affect sensitivity to anesthetics [6-8]. Immunohistochemistry of adult heads reveals that the channel is expressed in the neuropil of the central complex and optic lobe; expression is severely depressed in the mutants. In addition to previously described defects, the mutant phenotype is demonstrated here to include dysfunction in the coupling between light and locomotor behavior. Most dramatically, mutant flies have an inversion of relative locomotor activity in light versus dark. The involvement of the channel in daily rhythms of the fruit fly is especially provocative because the human ortholog lies in a candidate region linked to bipolar disorder [9], a disease frequently associated with altered diurnal behavior [10].

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2152-2158
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number24
StatePublished - Dec 23 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'An unusual cation channel mediates photic control of locomotion in Drosophila'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this