Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Genes Important To Sleep Discovered

Date:
March 2, 2009
Source:
North Carolina State University
Summary:
The fruit fly is genetically wired to sleep, although the sleep comes in widely variable amounts and patterns, according to new research. Learning more about the genetics of sleep in model animals could lead to advances in understanding human sleep and how sleep loss affects the human condition.

For many animals, sleep is a risk: foraging for food, mingling with mates and guarding against predators just aren't possible while snoozing. How, then, has this seemingly life-threatening behavior remained constant among various species of animals?

A new study by scientists at North Carolina State University shows that the fruit fly is genetically wired to sleep, although the sleep comes in widely variable amounts and patterns. Learning more about the genetics of sleep in model animals could lead to advances in understanding human sleep and how sleep loss affects the human condition.

The study, published online in Nature Genetics, examined the sleep and activity patterns of 40 different wild-derived lines of Drosophila melanogaster – one of the model animals used in scientific studies. It found that, on average, male fruit flies slept longer than females; males slept more during the day than females; and males were more active when awake than females. Females, in turn, tended to have more frequent bouts of sleep, and thus were disrupted more from sleep, than males.

The study identified almost 1,700 genes associated with the variability of sleep in fruit flies, say study authors Dr. Trudy Mackay, William Neal Reynolds and Distinguished University Professor of Genetics and Entomology, and Dr. Susan Harbison, a post-doctoral researcher in Mackay's lab. Many of these genes were not previously known to affect sleep.

Fruit flies within each of the 40 lines were homozygous, or exactly the same genetically, but the lines were completely different from one another, Mackay says. Small glass tubes containing one fruit fly and some food were placed in a machine that uses infrared sensors to monitor the minute-by-minute activity of the flies. If at least five minutes passed without any fly activity, it was calculated as sleep.

The study predicted that certain important genes would affect sleep duration. Independent verification with mutations in those genes did indeed have an effect on how long fruit flies slept. The study also discovered teams of genes that appeared to act together to affect some portion of sleep.

"We're starting to get a glimmer of how groups of correlated genes are overrepresented in different traits, and we now know more about how traits are associated with each other at the molecular level," Mackay says.

Funding for the study was provided by a grant from the National Institutes of Health and a Pickwick Fellowship from the National Sleep Foundation.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Susan T. Harbison, Mary Anna Carbone, Julien F. Ayroles, Eric A. Stone, Richard F. Lyman and Trudy F.C. Mackay, North Carolina State University. Co-regulated transcriptional networks contribute to natural genetic variation in Drosophila sleep. Nature Genetics, Online Feb. 22, 2009

Cite This Page:

North Carolina State University. "Genes Important To Sleep Discovered." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 March 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090222142149.htm>.
North Carolina State University. (2009, March 2). Genes Important To Sleep Discovered. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090222142149.htm
North Carolina State University. "Genes Important To Sleep Discovered." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090222142149.htm (accessed August 29, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Friday, August 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Treadmill 'trips' May Reduce Falls for Elderly

Treadmill 'trips' May Reduce Falls for Elderly

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) Scientists are tripping the elderly on purpose in a Chicago lab in an effort to better prevent seniors from falling and injuring themselves in real life. (Aug.28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) It’s an unusual condition with a colorful name. Kids with “Alice in Wonderland” syndrome see sudden distortions in objects they’re looking at or their own bodies appear to change size, a lot like the main character in the Lewis Carroll story. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stopping Schizophrenia Before Birth

Stopping Schizophrenia Before Birth

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) Scientists have long called choline a “brain booster” essential for human development. Not only does it aid in memory and learning, researchers now believe choline could help prevent mental illness. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Personalized Brain Vaccine for Glioblastoma

Personalized Brain Vaccine for Glioblastoma

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) Glioblastoma is the most common and aggressive brain cancer in humans. Now a new treatment using the patient’s own tumor could help slow down its progression and help patients live longer. Video provided by Ivanhoe
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