March 4, 2021

A screen for sleep and starvation resistance identifies a wake-promoting role for the auxiliary channel unc79

The regulation of sleep and metabolism are highly interconnected and dysregulation of sleep is linked to metabolic diseases that include obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Further, both acute and long-term changes in diet potently impact sleep duration and quality. To identify novel factors that modulate interactions between sleep and metabolic state we performed a genetic screen for their roles in regulating sleep duration, starvation resistance, and starvation-dependent modulation of sleep. This screen identified a number of genes with potential roles in regulating sleep, metabolism or both processes. One such gene encodes the auxiliary ion channel UNC79, which was implicated in both the regulation of sleep and starvation resistance. Genetic knockdown or mutation of unc79 results in flies with increased sleep duration, as well as increased starvation resistance. Previous findings have shown that unc79 is required in pacemaker for 24-hour circadian rhythms. Here, we find that unc79 functions in the mushroom body, but not pacemaker neurons, to regulate sleep duration and starvation resistance. Together, these findings reveal spatially localized separable functions of unc79 in the regulation of circadian behavior, sleep, and metabolic function.

 bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience

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