Conservation of sleep: insights from non-mammalian model systems

Trends Neurosci. 2008 Jul;31(7):371-6. doi: 10.1016/j.tins.2008.05.001. Epub 2008 Jun 5.


The past 10 years have seen new approaches to elucidating genetic pathways regulating sleep. The emerging theme is that sleep-like states are conserved in evolution, with similar signaling pathways playing a role in animals as distantly related as flies and humans. We review the evidence for the presence of sleep states in non-mammalian species including zebrafish (Danio rerio), fruitflies (Drosophila melanogaster) and roundworms (Caenorhabditis elegans). We describe conserved sleep-regulatory molecular pathways with a focus on cAMP and epidermal growth factor signaling; neurotransmitters with conserved effects on sleep and wake regulation, including dopamine and GABA; and a conserved molecular response to sleep deprivation involving the chaperone protein BiP/GRP78.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution
  • Models, Animal
  • Phylogeny
  • Physiology, Comparative
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • Sleep / physiology*