Insomniac fish shed light on the molecular basis of sleep disorders

Oct 16, 2007
Insomniac fish shed light on the molecular basis of sleep disorders
Infrared picture of an adult zebrafish (Danio rerio) sleeping at the bottom of its aquarium. Credit: Mignot et al.

Sleep disorders are common and poorly understood. In humans, narcolepsy is a sleep disorder associated with sleepiness, abnormal dreaming, paralysis and insomnia. Neuropeptides called hypocretins are implicated in this disorder.

A new study by Yokogawa and colleagues at Stanford University now reveals that fish, like mammals, sleep, and their hypocretin receptor plays an important role. Their work is published online this week in the open-access journal PLoS Biology.

The authors first generated a mutant fish in which the hypocretin system was disrupted. Intriguingly, this first fish sleep mutant did not display sleepiness or paralysis but showed a 30% reduction of its sleep time at night and a 60% decrease in sleep bout length compared with non-mutant fish.

They also studied the relationships between the hypocretin system and other sleep regulatory brain systems in zebrafish and found differences in expression patterns in the brain that may explain the differences in behavioral effects. Their study illustrates how a sleep regulatory system may have evolved across vertebrate phylogeny. Zebrafish, a powerful genetic model that has the advantage of transparency to study neuronal networks in vivo, can be used to study sleep.

Citation: Yokogawa T, Marin W, Faraco J, PeĀ“zeron G, Appelbaum L, et al. (2007) Characterization of sleep in zebrafish and insomnia in hypocretin receptor mutants. PLoS Biol 5(10): e277. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0050277

Source: Public Library of Science

Explore further: Full-annual-cycle models track migratory bird populations throughout the year

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Activating genes on demand

7 hours ago

When it comes to gene expression - the process by which our DNA provides the recipe used to direct the synthesis of proteins and other molecules that we need for development and survival - scientists have ...

Metabolic path to improved biofuel production

7 hours ago

Researchers with the Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI), a partnership that includes the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California (UC) Berkeley, have found a way ...

Deadly frog fungus dates back to 1880s, studies find

9 hours ago

A deadly fungus responsible for the extinction of more than 200 amphibian species worldwide has coexisted harmlessly with animals in Illinois and Korea for more than a century, a pair of studies have found.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.