Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Drowsy Fruit Flies Illuminate First Molecular Pathway, In Any Species, Known To Regulate Rest And Wakefulness

Date:
November 27, 2001
Source:
University Of Pennsylvania
Summary:
Working with sleep-deprived fruit flies, scientists at the University of Pennsylvania have uncovered the first molecular pathway, in any species, implicated in the shift between rest and wakefulness.

PHILADELPHIA – Working with sleep-deprived fruit flies, scientists at the University of Pennsylvania have uncovered the first molecular pathway, in any species, implicated in the shift between rest and wakefulness.

The findings, from a team led by Joan C. Hendricks of Penn’s Center for Sleep and Respiratory Neurobiology, are reported in the November issue of the journal Nature Neuroscience. The work indicates that a Drosophila melanogaster gene known as CREB – evolutionarily conserved in species from flies to humans – plays a role in rest’s rejuvenating effects, apparently permitting sustained wakefulness.

Anyone who’s ever pulled an all-nighter knows by the next morning that sleep is essential, and sleep’s status as a behavior found in organisms ranging from fruit flies to frogs to humans underscores its importance as a biological process. But 50 years after the discovery of REM sleep, scientists still know little, on a molecular level, about why sleep is needed and the exact benefits conferred by a daily period of rest.

The Penn researchers say that in addition to offering answers to such fundamental questions, the new work could help improve the efficacy and safety of the ways people alter their sleep patterns.

"If we can get at basic mechanisms of how sleep is normally controlled, and what it does for us, we can start to think of how to control, manage and improve sleep," said Hendricks, a professor in the Philadelphia Department of Clinical Studies at Penn’s School of Veterinary Medicine. "This would be helpful for people subjected to changes in sleep schedules and for people with sleep disorders."

Hendricks’ group first described Drosophila sleep in a paper published last year in the journal Neuron. Rest in flies shares numerous similarities with human sleep, including prolonged immobility, decreased sensory responsiveness and a need to compensate after sleep deprivation. Fruit flies spend about six to 10 hours a day resting, mostly at night.

"The sleeping flies lie prone in a quiet corner, unresponsive to stimuli, for bouts averaging about 45 minutes but sometimes lasting up to two-and-a-half hours," Hendricks said. "These sessions are interspersed with very brief, one- to two-minute interruptions, during which they eat and groom and then settle back down."

The Penn researchers’ new findings indicate that the activity of CREB, short for cyclic AMP response element binding protein, is inversely related to the physiological urge for rest. The need for sleep after a phase of deprivation – attained through the mechanical agitation of fly habitats roughly every 15 seconds for as long as six hours – surged in flies whose CREB activity was blocked. In normal flies, CREB activity remains elevated for some 72 hours after such a prolonged period of wakefulness; CREB mutants slumber even longer than normal flies in the aftermath of deprivation.

CREB, which is evolutionarily conserved in species from slugs to mice to humans and already known to function in cyclic AMP signaling, is also known to play an important role in learning in fruit flies. Hendricks’ work could strengthen the link that many researchers believe exists between rest and the consolidation of memory.

The Penn group is continuing its studies of how CREB is turned on, as well as the target genes affected by its activity. They suspect that CREB activation during rest may somehow optimize the function of the central nervous system during waking hours.

Hendricks’ co-authors on the Nature Neuroscience paper are Julie A. Williams, Karen Panckeri, David Kirk and Amita Sehgal, all of Penn, and Marcela Tello and Jerry C.-P. Yin of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York. Their work is funded by the National Institute of Heart, Lung and Blood and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Pennsylvania. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Pennsylvania. "Drowsy Fruit Flies Illuminate First Molecular Pathway, In Any Species, Known To Regulate Rest And Wakefulness." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 November 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/11/011120045440.htm>.
University Of Pennsylvania. (2001, November 27). Drowsy Fruit Flies Illuminate First Molecular Pathway, In Any Species, Known To Regulate Rest And Wakefulness. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/11/011120045440.htm
University Of Pennsylvania. "Drowsy Fruit Flies Illuminate First Molecular Pathway, In Any Species, Known To Regulate Rest And Wakefulness." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/11/011120045440.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

AP (July 31, 2014) Sarasota County, Florida health officials have issued a warning against eating raw oysters and exposing open wounds to coastal and inland waters after a dangerous bacteria killed one person and made another sick. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 30, 2014) Obamacare-related costs were said to be behind the profit plunge at Wellpoint and Humana, but Wellpoint sees the new exchanges boosting its earnings for the full year. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Peace Corps Pulls Workers From W. Africa Over Ebola Fears

Peace Corps Pulls Workers From W. Africa Over Ebola Fears

Newsy (July 30, 2014) The Peace Corps is one of several U.S.-based organizations to pull workers out of West Africa because of the Ebola outbreak. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Weather Kills 2K A Year, But Storms Aren't The Main Offender

Weather Kills 2K A Year, But Storms Aren't The Main Offender

Newsy (July 30, 2014) Health officials say 2,000 deaths occur each year in the U.S. due to weather, but it's excessive heat and cold that claim the most lives. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins