Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2021 Apr 27;118(17):e2101818118. doi: 10.1073/pnas.2101818118.
Neuropeptides control rhythmic behaviors, but the timing and location of their release within circuits is unknown. Here, imaging in the brain shows that synaptic neuropeptide release by Drosophila clock neurons is diurnal, peaking at times of day that were not anticipated by prior electrical and Ca2+ data. Furthermore, hours before peak synaptic neuropeptide release, neuropeptide release occurs at the soma, a neuronal compartment that has not been implicated in peptidergic transmission. The timing disparity between release at the soma and terminals results from independent and compartmentalized mechanisms for daily rhythmic release: consistent with conventional electrical activity-triggered synaptic transmission, terminals require Ca2+ influx, while somatic neuropeptide release is triggered by the biochemical signal IP3 Upon disrupting the somatic mechanism, the rhythm of terminal release and locomotor activity period are unaffected, but the number of flies with rhythmic behavior and sleep-wake balance are reduced. These results support the conclusion that somatic neuropeptide release controls specific features of clock neuron-dependent behaviors. Thus, compartment-specific mechanisms within individual clock neurons produce temporally and spatially partitioned neuropeptide release to expand the peptidergic connectome underlying daily rhythmic behaviors.