A single pair of leucokinin neurons are modulated by feeding state and regulate sleep-metabolism interactions

PLoS Biol. 2019 Feb 13;17(2):e2006409. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.2006409. eCollection 2019 Feb.


Dysregulation of sleep and feeding has widespread health consequences. Despite extensive epidemiological evidence for interactions between sleep and metabolic function, little is known about the neural or molecular basis underlying the integration of these processes. D. melanogaster potently suppress sleep in response to starvation, and powerful genetic tools allow for mechanistic investigation of sleep-metabolism interactions. We have previously identified neurons expressing the neuropeptide leucokinin (Lk) as being required for starvation-mediated changes in sleep. Here, we demonstrate an essential role for Lk neuropeptide in metabolic regulation of sleep. The activity of Lk neurons is modulated by feeding, with reduced activity in response to glucose and increased activity under starvation conditions. Both genetic silencing and laser-mediated microablation localize Lk-dependent sleep regulation to a single pair of Lk neurons within the Lateral Horn (LHLK neurons). A targeted screen identified a role for 5' adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK) in starvation-modulated changes in sleep. Knockdown of AMPK in Lk neurons suppresses sleep and increases LHLK neuron activity in fed flies, phenocopying the starvation state. Further, we find a requirement for the Lk receptor in the insulin-producing cells (IPCs), suggesting LHLK-IPC connectivity is critical for sleep regulation under starved conditions. Taken together, these findings localize feeding-state-dependent regulation of sleep to a single pair of neurons within the fruit fly brain and provide a system for investigating the cellular basis of sleep-metabolism interactions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adenylate Kinase / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / metabolism*
  • Laser Therapy
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Neuropeptides / metabolism*
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Starvation
  • Wakefulness


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Lk protein, Drosophila
  • Neuropeptides
  • Adenylate Kinase