Biology and Neurobiology&Anatomy Seminar

Nicholas Stavropoulos
The Rockefeller University
Wednesday, February 8th, 2012
4:00pm in Aline Skaggs Biology Building
"Molecular mechanisms underlying the regulation of sleep in Drosophilia"

Abstract: Although sleep is a fundamental animal behavior that is millions of years old and whose importance is widely appreciated, the mechanisms that underlie its regulation and function are still not well understood. The fruitfly Drosophila melanogaster exhibits a sleep state similar to that of vertebrates, enabling powerful genetic approaches to be exploited to investigate sleep. We have conducted a large-scale analysis of sleep-wake behavior in nearly 21,000 chemically mutagenized animals, and have isolated and characterized insomniac, a mutant that exhibits a profound decrease in the duration and consolidation of sleep. insomniac functions within neurons and is likely to engage a protein degradation pathway to regulate sleep, and two additional genes in this pathway, Cul3 and Nedd8, are vital for the proper regulation of sleep. All of these genes are very highly conserved through evolution, and their expression within the vertebrate brain suggests that neuronal proteolysis may play a fundamental and previously unappreciated role in controlling sleep throughout the animal kingdom.