Editors' ChoiceNeuroscience

Sleepless in Drosophila

Sci. Signal.  22 Jul 2008:
Vol. 1, Issue 29, pp. ec266
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.129ec266

All animals sleep, and the longer they are awake, the stronger the drive to sleep. To better understand the process of sleep, Koh et al. screened mutagenized Drosophila for genes involved in sleep regulation. They found one—sleepless—that is required for normal sleep; without sleepless, flies sleep much less, about 20% of normal. Sleepless is also required for rebound sleep after prolonged waking. Sleepless is an allele of quiver, a gene that modulates the K+ channel activity encoded by Shaker, which also affects sleep. K+ channel-associated neuronal sensitivity may thus play a role in the control of sleep, and the SLEEPLESS protein may signal the drive to sleep by decreasing membrane excitability.

K. Koh, W. J. Joiner, M. N. Wu, Z. Yue, C. J. Smith, A. Sehgal, Identification of SLEEPLESS, a sleep-promoting factor. Science 321, 372-376 (2008). [Abstract] [Full Text]