Mon 17th March 2014
The Wu lab describes new sleep gene in Neuron and on NPR
In the April 2nd issue of Neuron, the Wu Lab reports the identification of a novel conserved molecule that mediates the circadian timing of sleep in Drosophila. The timing of sleep is regulated by the circadian clock, but the underlying mechanisms are poorly understood. From a large scale screen, Liu et al. identified a novel molecule, WIDE AWAKE, that translates timing information from the molecular clock to modulate the excitability of arousal promoting clock neurons. WIDE AWAKE does this by upregulating GABAA receptors in this arousal-promoting circuit specifically in the early evening, thus inhibiting this circuit to promote the switch from wakefulness to sleep. Interestingly, the mammalian homolog of WIDE AWAKE is enriched in the suprachiasmatic nucleus, the master biological clock, suggesting that the function of WIDE AWAKE will be conserved in mammals.
Liu et al, Neuron doi:10.1016/j.neuron.2014.01.040
In the news
Mark Wu discusses this work on NPR: