Reduced muscle contraction and a relaxed posture during sleep-like Lethargus

Worm. 2012 Jan 1;1(1):12-4. doi: 10.4161/worm.19499.


Sleep is characterized by reduced muscle activity resulting in reduced movement and a typical posture compatible with relaxed muscles. Prior to each molt, C. elegans larvae go through a phase of behavioral quiescence called Lethargus. Lethargus has sleep-like properties, but a specific posture has not yet been described. Do C. elegans larvae relax their muscles during sleep and do they assume a typical posture? We measured worm posture and body wall muscle activity using calcium imaging across the sleep-wake-like cycle. We found that worms were less curved and had less muscle activity during the sleep-like state. We conclude that during Lethargus, muscle activity is reduced, resulting in a relaxed body posture typical for a sleep-like state.

Keywords: GCaMP; Lethargus; calcium; muscle; posture; sleep.