Reduced sleep-like quiescence in both hyperactive and hypoactive mutants of the Galphaq Gene egl-30 during lethargus in Caenorhabditis elegans

PLoS One. 2013 Sep 20;8(9):e75853. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0075853. eCollection 2013.


Sleep-like states are characterized by massively reduced behavioral activity. Little is known about genetic control of sleep-like behavior. It is also not clear how general activity levels during wake-like behavior influence activity levels during sleep-like behavior. Mutations that increase wake-like activity are generally believed to also increase activity during sleep-like behavior and mutations that decrease wake-like activity are believed to have decreased activity during sleep-like behavior. We studied sleep-like behavior during lethargus in larvae of Caenorhabditis elegans. We looked through a small set of known mutants with altered activity levels. As expected, mutants with increased activity levels typically showed less sleep-like behavior. Among these hyperactive mutants was a gain-of-function mutant of the conserved heterotrimeric G protein subunit Galphaq gene egl-30. We found, however, that an unusual semidominant hypoactive mutant of egl-30 also had reduced sleep-like behavior. While movement was severely reduced and impaired in the semidominant egl-30 mutant, sleep-like behavior was severely reduced: the semidominant egl-30 mutant lacked prolonged periods of complete immobility, reduced spontaneous neural activity less, and reduced responsiveness to stimulation less. egl-30 is a well-known regulator of behavior. Our results suggest that egl-30 controls not only general activity levels, but also differences between wake-like and sleep-like behavior.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified / physiology*
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / physiology*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / genetics
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / metabolism*
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • GTP-Binding Protein alpha Subunits, Gq-G11 / genetics
  • GTP-Binding Protein alpha Subunits, Gq-G11 / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Larva / cytology
  • Larva / metabolism*
  • Lethargy / physiopathology*
  • Mechanotransduction, Cellular
  • Mutation / genetics*
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Signal Transduction
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Wakefulness


  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • Egl-30 protein, C elegans
  • GTP-Binding Protein alpha Subunits, Gq-G11
  • Calcium