Neuronal activity and gene expression in response to the loss of sleep can provide a window into the enigma of sleep function. Sleep loss is associated with brain differential gene expression, an increase in pyramidal cell mEPSC frequency and amplitude, and a characteristic rebound and resolution of slow wave sleep-slow wave activity (SWS-SWA). However, the molecular mechanism(s) mediating the sleep-loss response are not well understood. We show that sleep-loss regulates MEF2C phosphorylation, a key mechanism regulating MEF2C transcriptional activity, and that MEF2C function in postnatal excitatory forebrain neurons is required for the biological events in response to sleep loss in C57BL/6J mice. These include altered gene expression, the increase and recovery of synaptic strength, and the rebound and resolution of SWS-SWA, which implicate MEF2C as an essential regulator of sleep function.
Keywords: MEF2C; gene expression; mouse; neuroscience; sleep; sleep deprivation; slow wave activity.
© 2020, Bjorness et al.