[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Genetic causes for disturbances of locomotor behavior can be due to muscle, peripheral neuron, or central nervous system pathologies. The Drosophila melanogaster homolog of human CASK (also known as caki or camguk) is a molecular scaffold that has been postulated to have roles in both locomotion and plasticity. These conclusions are based on studies using overlapping deficiencies that largely eliminate the entire CASK locus, but contain additional chromosomal aberrations as well. More importantly, analysis of the sequenced Drosophila genome suggests the existence of multiple protein variants from the CASK locus, further complicating the interpretation of experiments using deficiency strains. In this study, we generated small deletions within the CASK gene that eliminate gene products containing the CaMK-like and L27 domains (CASK-β), but do not affect transcripts encoding the smaller forms (CASK-α), which are structurally homologous to vertebrate MPP1. These mutants have normal olfactory habituation, but exhibit a striking array of locomotor problems that includes both initiation and motor maintenance defects. Previous studies had suggested that presynaptic release defects at the neuromuscular junction in the multigene deficiency strain were the likely basis of its locomotor phenotype. The locomotor phenotype of the CASK-β mutant, however, cannot be rescued by expression of a CASK-β transgene in motor neurons. Expression in a subset of central neurons that does not include the ellipsoid body, a well-known pre-motor neuropil, provides complete rescue. Full-length CASK-β, while widely expressed in the nervous system, appears to have a unique role within central circuits that control motor output.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Daily sleep cycles in humans are driven by a complex circuit within which GABAergic sleep-promoting neurons oppose arousal. Drosophila sleep has recently been shown to be controlled by GABA, which acts on unknown cells expressing the Rdl GABAA receptor. We identify here the relevant Rdl-containing cells as PDF-expressing small and large ventral lateral neurons (LNvs) of the circadian clock. LNv activity regulates total sleep as well as the rate of sleep onset; both large and small LNvs are part of the sleep circuit. Flies mutant for pdf or its receptor are hypersomnolent, and PDF acts on the LNvs themselves to control sleep. These features of the Drosophila sleep circuit, GABAergic control of onset and maintenance as well as peptidergic control of arousal, support the idea that features of sleep-circuit architecture as well as the mechanisms governing the behavioral transitions between sleep and wake are conserved between mammals and insects.