Study objectives: Sleep is a fundamental physiological process and its biological mechanisms are poorly understood. In Drosophila melanogaster, heterotrimeric Go protein is abundantly expressed in the brain. However, its post-developmental function has not been extensively explored.
Design: Locomotor activity was measured using the Drosophila Activity Monitoring System under a 12:12 LD cycle. Sleep was defined as periods of 5 min with no recorded activity.
Results: Pan-neuronal elevation of Go signaling induced quiescence accompanied by an increased arousal threshold in flies. By screening region-specific GAL4 lines, we mapped the sleep-regulatory function of Go signaling to mushroom bodies (MBs), a central brain region which modulates memory, decision making, and sleep in Drosophila. Up-regulation of Go activity in these neurons consolidated sleep while inhibition of endogenous Go via expression of Go RNAi or pertussis toxin reduced and fragmented sleep, indicating that the Drosophila sleep requirement is affected by levels of Go activity in the MBs. Genetic interaction results showed that Go signaling serves as a neuronal transmission inhibitor in a cAMP-independent pathway.
Conclusion: Go signaling is a novel signaling pathway in MBs that regulates sleep in Drosophila.
Keywords: Drosophila; Go; Mushroom bodies; RNAi; cAMP.