Research ArticleNEUROSCIENCE

Disrupting flight increases sleep and identifies a novel sleep-promoting pathway in Drosophila

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Science Advances  08 May 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 19, eaaz2166
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaz2166


Sleep is plastic and is influenced by ecological factors and environmental changes. The mechanisms underlying sleep plasticity are not well understood. We show that manipulations that impair flight in Drosophila increase sleep as a form of sleep plasticity. We disrupted flight by blocking the wing-expansion program, genetically disrupting flight, and by mechanical wing perturbations. We defined a new sleep regulatory circuit starting with specific wing sensory neurons, their target projection neurons in the ventral nerve cord, and the neurons they connect to in the central brain. In addition, we identified a critical neuropeptide (burs) and its receptor (rickets) that link wing expansion and sleep. Disrupting flight activates these sleep-promoting projection neurons, as indicated by increased cytosolic calcium levels, and stably increases the number of synapses in their axonal projections. These data reveal an unexpected role for flight in regulating sleep and provide new insight into how sensory processing controls sleep need.

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