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Curr Biol. 2011 May 24;21(10):835-40. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2011.04.001. Epub 2011 May 5.

Notch signaling modulates sleep homeostasis and learning after sleep deprivation in Drosophila.

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Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, Washington University School of Medicine, 660 South Euclid Avenue, Campus Box 8108, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA.


The role of the transmembrane receptor Notch in the adult brain is poorly understood. Here, we provide evidence that bunched, a negative regulator of Notch, is involved in sleep homeostasis. Genetic evidence indicates that interfering with bunched activity in the mushroom bodies (MBs) abolishes sleep homeostasis. Combining bunched and Delta loss-of-function mutations rescues normal homeostasis, suggesting that Notch signaling may be involved in regulating sensitivity to sleep loss. Preventing the downregulation of Delta by overexpressing a wild-type transgene in MBs reduces sleep homeostasis and, importantly, prevents learning impairments induced by sleep deprivation. Similar resistance to sleep loss is observed with Notch(spl-1) gain-of-function mutants. Immunohistochemistry reveals that the Notch receptor is expressed in glia, whereas Delta is localized in neurons. Importantly, the expression in glia of the intracellular domain of Notch, a dominant activated form of the receptor, is sufficient to prevent learning deficits after sleep deprivation. Together, these results identify a novel neuron-glia signaling pathway dependent on Notch and regulated by bunched. These data highlight the emerging role of neuron-glia interactions in regulating both sleep and learning impairments associated with sleep loss.

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