cGMP-dependent protein kinase type I is implicated in the regulation of the timing and quality of sleep and wakefulness

PLoS One. 2009;4(1):e4238. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0004238. Epub 2009 Jan 21.


Many effects of nitric oxide (NO) are mediated by the activation of guanylyl cyclases and subsequent production of the second messenger cyclic guanosine-3',5'-monophosphate (cGMP). cGMP activates cGMP-dependent protein kinases (PRKGs), which can therefore be considered downstream effectors of NO signaling. Since NO is thought to be involved in the regulation of both sleep and circadian rhythms, we analyzed these two processes in mice deficient for cGMP-dependent protein kinase type I (PRKG1) in the brain. Prkg1 mutant mice showed a strikingly altered distribution of sleep and wakefulness over the 24 hours of a day as well as reductions in rapid-eye-movement sleep (REMS) duration and in non-REM sleep (NREMS) consolidation, and their ability to sustain waking episodes was compromised. Furthermore, they displayed a drastic decrease in electroencephalogram (EEG) power in the delta frequency range (1-4 Hz) under baseline conditions, which could be normalized after sleep deprivation. In line with the re-distribution of sleep and wakefulness, the analysis of wheel-running and drinking activity revealed more rest bouts during the activity phase and a higher percentage of daytime activity in mutant animals. No changes were observed in internal period length and phase-shifting properties of the circadian clock while chi-squared periodogram amplitude was significantly reduced, hinting at a less robust oscillator. These results indicate that PRKG1 might be involved in the stabilization and output strength of the circadian oscillator in mice. Moreover, PRKG1 deficiency results in an aberrant pattern, and consequently a reduced quality, of sleep and wakefulness, possibly due to a decreased wake-promoting output of the circadian system impinging upon sleep.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Circadian Rhythm
  • Cyclic GMP / metabolism
  • Cyclic GMP-Dependent Protein Kinases / genetics*
  • Cyclic GMP-Dependent Protein Kinases / metabolism*
  • Electroencephalography / methods
  • Electromyography / methods
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Mutation
  • Nitric Oxide / metabolism
  • Oscillometry
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Sleep Deprivation
  • Wakefulness / physiology*


  • Nitric Oxide
  • Cyclic GMP-Dependent Protein Kinases
  • Cyclic GMP