insomniac links the development and function of a sleep-regulatory circuit

Elife. 2021 Dec 15:10:e65437. doi: 10.7554/eLife.65437.


Although many genes are known to influence sleep, when and how they impact sleep-regulatory circuits remain ill-defined. Here, we show that insomniac (inc), a conserved adaptor for the autism-associated Cul3 ubiquitin ligase, acts in a restricted period of neuronal development to impact sleep in adult Drosophila. The loss of inc causes structural and functional alterations within the mushroom body (MB), a center for sensory integration, associative learning, and sleep regulation. In inc mutants, MB neurons are produced in excess, develop anatomical defects that impede circuit assembly, and are unable to promote sleep when activated in adulthood. Our findings link neurogenesis and postmitotic development of sleep-regulatory neurons to their adult function and suggest that developmental perturbations of circuits that couple sensory inputs and sleep may underlie sleep dysfunction in neurodevelopmental disorders.

Keywords: Cul3; D. melanogaster; autism; developmental biology; neuroblast; neurodevelopmental disorders; neurogenesis; neuroscience; sleep disorders.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drosophila Proteins / genetics*
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics
  • Drosophila melanogaster / physiology*
  • Models, Animal
  • Mushroom Bodies / physiology
  • Neurogenesis
  • Sleep / genetics*


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Inc protein, Drosophila