A dynamic role for the mushroom bodies in promoting sleep in Drosophila


The fruitfly, Drosophila melanogaster, exhibits many of the cardinal features of sleep, yet little is known about the neural circuits governing its sleep1. Here we have performed a screen of GAL4 lines expressing a temperature-sensitive synaptic blocker shibirets1 (ref. 2) in a range of discrete neural circuits, and assayed the amount of sleep at different temperatures. We identified three short-sleep lines at the restrictive temperature with shared expression in the mushroom bodies, a neural locus central to learning and memory3. Chemical ablation of the mushroom bodies also resulted in reduced sleep. These studies highlight a central role for the mushroom bodies in sleep regulation.

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Figure 1: Sleep in short-sleep GAL4 lines.
Figure 2: Short-sleep GAL4 lines share expression within the MB.
Figure 3: Sleep intensity is reduced, and activity is not correlated with the short-sleep phenotype.
Figure 4: Mushroom body ablation reduces sleep.


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We thank M. Villar, A. Schroeder, B. Finn, D. Hanrahan, A. Majeed and A. Phillips for assistance with PCR genotyping (M.V.), confocal imaging (A.S., B.F.), initial screening (D.H., A.M.) and designing data analysis software (A.P.); C. Cirelli and G. Tononi and their laboratories for advice on mechanical sleep deprivation; P. Shaw, T. Zars, M. Rosbash and E. Smith for comments; and B. Joiner and A. Sehgal for communicating results before publication. This work was supported by a Burroughs Wellcome Career Award in the Biomedical Sciences and by the NIH (R.A.). Author Contributions J.L.P. completed all experiments and analyses, with assistance on lifespan, PCR genotyping and general fly maintenance from J.J.McG., and on the development and application of behaviour data analysis software for measures of sleep intensity (the Drosophila Activity Monitor Data Crunching Macro) from K.P.K. J.L.P. and R.A. wrote the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Ravi Allada.

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Pitman, J., McGill, J., Keegan, K. et al. A dynamic role for the mushroom bodies in promoting sleep in Drosophila. Nature 441, 753–756 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature04739

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