Calcium signals in astrocytes of the fly brain promote sleep.
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Astrocytes are morphologically and functionally linked to neuronal synapses, and can regulate the activity of neural circuits, brain function, and behavior. However, the molecular mechanisms by which astrocytes regulate fundamental biological processes such as sleep are not completely understood. Wu and colleagues show that an increase in calcium signals within the processes of astrocytes of the fruit fly brain can promote sleep by upregulating the expression of a monoamine receptor, TyrRII, which in turn activates sleep promoting neurons via the astrocytic release of an interleukin-1 analog, spatzle. This study provides compelling evidence for a novel molecular mechanism by which increases in astrocytic calcium signals can induce sleep by activating sleep promoting neurons in the fly brain.
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