Individuals frequently find themselves confronted with a variety of challenges that threaten their wellbeing. While some individuals face these challenges efficiently and thrive (resilient) others are unable to cope and may suffer persistent consequences (vulnerable). Resilience/vulnerability to sleep disruption may contribute to the vulnerability of individuals exposed to challenging conditions. With that in mind we exploited individual differences in a fly's ability to form short-term memory (STM) following 3 different types of sleep disruption to identify the underlying genes. Our analysis showed that in each category of flies examined, there are individuals that form STM in the face of sleep loss (resilient) while other individuals show dramatic declines in cognitive behavior (vulnerable). Molecular genetic studies revealed that Antimicrobial Peptides, factors important for innate immunity, were candidates for conferring resilience/vulnerability to sleep deprivation. Specifically, Metchnikowin (Mtk), drosocin (dro) and Attacin (Att) transcript levels seemed to be differentially increased by sleep deprivation in glia (Mtk), neurons (dro) or primarily in the head fat body (Att). Follow-up genetic studies confirmed that expressing Mtk in glia but not neurons, and expressing dro in neurons but not glia, disrupted memory while modulating sleep in opposite directions. These data indicate that various factors within glia or neurons can contribute to individual differences in resilience/vulnerability to sleep deprivation.
Keywords: Glia; Immunity; Individual differences; Resilience/vulnerability; Short term memory; Sleep disruption.
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