Cell Signaling

Taking Sleep Up a Notch

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Science  10 Jun 2011:
Vol. 332, Issue 6035, pp. 1242
DOI: 10.1126/science.332.6035.1242-c
CREDIT: FOTOSEARCH.COM/ANNA KARWOWSKA

Notch receptor signaling is best known for its regulation of pattern formation and cell fate during development, but recent evidence also indicates an important role for Notch in the adult brain. Two new studies now show that Notch signaling regulates sleep or sleep-like functions in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans and the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. In Drosophila, Seugnet et al. found that a negative regulator of Notch signaling accumulated after sleep deprivation. Restoration of Notch signaling decreased the amount of extra sleep required by sleep-deprived flies and prevented the deficit in learning caused by loss of sleep. In C. elegans, Singh et al. showed that Notch signaling promoted a sleep-like quiescent behavior normally associated with larval molting. Mutations in various Notch signaling components that led to a reduction of Notch signaling also lowered the arousal threshold from this sleep-like state, thus affecting the quality of sleep. Although the specifics of how Notch signaling affects sleep may vary between different organisms, these studies hint that reduced Notch signaling is associated with responses to environmental stress.

Curr. Biol. 21, 835 (2011); Curr. Biol. 21, 825 (2011).

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