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Curr Biol. 2019 Nov 18;29(22):3803-3813.e5. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2019.09.026. Epub 2019 Oct 31.

The Sublaterodorsal Tegmental Nucleus Functions to Couple Brain State and Motor Activity during REM Sleep and Wakefulness.

Author information

1
Centre for Biological Timing and Cognition, Department Cell & Systems Biology, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON M5S 3G5, Canada.
2
Department of Physiology, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON M5S 3G5, Canada; Department of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON M5S 3G5, Canada.
3
Centre for Biological Timing and Cognition, Department Cell & Systems Biology, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON M5S 3G5, Canada; Department of Physiology, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON M5S 3G5, Canada. Electronic address: john.peever@utoronto.ca.

Abstract

Appropriate levels of muscle tone are needed to support waking behaviors such as sitting or standing. However, it is unclear how the brain functions to couple muscle tone with waking behaviors. Cataplexy is a unique experiment of nature in which muscle paralysis involuntarily intrudes into otherwise normal periods of wakefulness. Cataplexy therefore provides the opportunity to identify the circuit mechanisms that couple muscle tone and waking behaviors. Here, we tested the long-standing hypothesis that muscle paralysis during cataplexy is caused by recruitment of the brainstem circuit that induces muscle paralysis during REM sleep. Using behavioral, electrophysiological, and chemogenetic strategies, we found that muscle tone and arousal state can be decoupled by manipulation of the REM sleep circuit (the sublaterodorsal tegmental nucleus [SLD]). First, we show that silencing SLD neurons prevents motor suppression during REM sleep. Second, we show that activating these same neurons promotes cataplexy in narcoleptic (orexin-/-) mice, whereas silencing these neurons prevents cataplexy. Most importantly, we show that SLD neurons can decouple motor activity and arousal state in healthy mice. We show that SLD activation triggers cataplexy-like attacks in wild-type mice that are behaviorally and electrophysiologically indistinguishable from cataplexy in orexin-/- mice. We conclude that the SLD functions to engage arousal-motor synchrony during both wakefulness and REM sleep, and we propose that pathological recruitment of SLD neurons could underlie cataplexy in narcolepsy.

KEYWORDS:

REM sleep; atonia; cataplexy; chemogenetic; glutamate; motor control; muscle paralysis; narcolepsy; sleep circuitry; wakefulness

PMID:
31679942
DOI:
10.1016/j.cub.2019.09.026

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