Regulation of sleep by neuropeptide Y-like system in Drosophila melanogaster

PLoS One. 2013 Sep 11;8(9):e74237. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0074237. eCollection 2013.


Sleep is important for maintenance of normal physiology in animals. In mammals, neuropeptide Y (NPY), a homolog of Drosophila neuropeptide F (NPF), is involved in sleep regulation, with different effects in human and rat. However, the function of NPF on sleep in Drosophila melanogaster has not yet been described. In this study, we investigated the effects of NPF and its receptor-neuropeptide F receptor (NPFR1) on Drosophila sleep. Male flies over-expressing NPF or NPFR1 exhibited increased sleep during the nighttime. Further analysis demonstrated that sleep episode duration during nighttime was greatly increased and sleep latency was significantly reduced, indicating that NPF and NPFR1 promote sleep quality, and their action on sleep is not because of an impact of the NPF signal system on development. Moreover, the homeostatic regulation of flies after sleep deprivation was disrupted by altered NPF signaling, since sleep deprivation decreased transcription of NPF in control flies, and there were less sleep loss during sleep deprivation and less sleep gain after sleep deprivation in flies overexpressing NPF and NPFR1 than in control flies, suggesting that NPF system auto-regulation plays an important role in sleep homeostasis. However, these effects did not occur in females, suggesting a sex-dependent regulatory function in sleep for NPF and NPFR1. NPF in D1 brain neurons showed male-specific expression, providing the cellular locus for male-specific regulation of sleep by NPF and NPFR1. This study brings a new understanding into sleep studies of a sexually dimorphic regulatory mode in female and male flies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / cytology
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Drosophila Proteins / genetics*
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / metabolism
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Neuropeptide Y / genetics
  • Neuropeptide Y / metabolism
  • Neuropeptides / genetics*
  • Neuropeptides / metabolism
  • Photoperiod
  • Polysomnography
  • Rats
  • Receptors, Neuropeptide / genetics*
  • Receptors, Neuropeptide / metabolism
  • Sex Factors
  • Signal Transduction
  • Sleep / genetics*
  • Sleep Deprivation
  • Species Specificity


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • NPFR protein, Drosophila
  • Neuropeptide Y
  • Neuropeptides
  • Receptors, Neuropeptide
  • neuropeptide F, Drosophila

Grant support

This work was supported by the National Basic Research Program from the Ministry of Science and Technology of the People’s Republic of China (“973” Program Grant number 2012CB114100), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant number 31272371), the Doctoral Scientific Fund Project of the Ministry of Education of China (Grant number 20110008110018) to Z. Zhao, and the Innovation Fund for Graduate Students of China Agricultural University (Grant number KYCX2011004). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.