Neuronal machinery of sleep homeostasis in Drosophila.
Donlea JM., Pimentel D., Miesenböck G.
Sleep is under homeostatic control, but the mechanisms that sense sleep need and correct sleep deficits remain unknown. Here, we report that sleep-promoting neurons with projections to the dorsal fan-shaped body (FB) form the output arm of Drosophila's sleep homeostat. Homeostatic sleep control requires the Rho-GTPase-activating protein encoded by the crossveinless-c (cv-c) gene in order to transduce sleep pressure into increased electrical excitability of dorsal FB neurons. cv-c mutants exhibit decreased sleep time, diminished sleep rebound, and memory deficits comparable to those after sleep loss. Targeted ablation and rescue of Cv-c in sleep-control neurons of the dorsal FB impair and restore, respectively, normal sleep patterns. Sleep deprivation increases the excitability of dorsal FB neurons, but this homeostatic adjustment is disrupted in short-sleeping cv-c mutants. Sleep pressure thus shifts the input-output function of sleep-promoting neurons toward heightened activity by modulating ion channel function in a mechanism dependent on Cv-c.