How do we know we are tired and that it is time to sleep, and why can we go without sleep when we are excited? Usually, after a sleepless night, we make up for it the following day by taking a nap (if possible) or by going to bed earlier – a process referred to as rebound sleep. According to a long-standing model, this need to catch up on our sleep is modulated by two distinct mechanisms: the sleep homeostat, which controls how much we sleep, and the circadian clock, which dictates when we sleep (Borbély, 1982). While this model lays the foundation for understanding how sleep is regulated, it neglects a variety of other social, emotional and environmental factors that impact on sleep.
Sleep is highly conserved throughout the animal kingdom at both the genetic and the functional level. Some species are also known to skip sleep in favor of migration, mating or other social interactions. Flies, for example, can forgo sleep when they are exposed to mechanical stimulation or social interactions, which makes them a popular model for studying the regulation of sleep (Gilestro et al., 2009). Now, in eLife, Giorgio Gilestro of Imperial College and co-workers – Esteban Beckwith as first author, Quentin Geissmann and Alice French – report new insights into how sexual arousal in flies affects their need for sleep (Beckwith et al., 2017).
To examine how 'social sleep deprivation' affects rebound sleep, Beckwith et al. exposed the flies to different social scenarios. First, they placed a male fly into an arena that already contained a male resident. The presence of another male caused the resident to lose sleep, but he caught up via rebound sleep once the male intruder had been removed (Figure 1). The resident also lost sleep when a receptive female fly was introduced, but he did not catch up via rebound sleep once the female was removed. This suggests that the sexual arousal induced by the female fly was sufficient to override any need for the male to catch up after a sleepless night.
What allows sexual arousal to overcome rebound sleep? Fly courtship is a multisensory experience that involves visual, tactile, acoustic and pheromonal cues. Beckwith et al. found that exposing male flies to female pheromones, or transferring them into tubes that previously contained a female fly, was sufficient to suppress rebound sleep.
To get to the bottom of why sexually aroused males did not catch up on lost sleep, Beckwith et al. looked deeper into the fly brain. Previous research has shown that male flies sense certain pheromones through neurons (and their receptor proteins) on their forelegs – this is why male flies repeatedly tap female flies with their legs during courtship. Beckwith et al. discovered that when males lacked the pheromone receptor pickpocket 23 on these leg neurons, they did not notice the pheromones and rebound sleep occurred.
Moreover, the results showed that a specific cluster of neurons, called P1 neurons, are critical for courtship-suppressed sleep. When these neurons were stimulated, rebound sleep was inhibited. Taken together, these findings suggest that pickpocket 23 neurons detect pheromones and then activate P1 neurons which, in turn, suppress sleep and prevent rebound sleep.
To better understand the mechanisms underlying the sexual arousal vs. sleep trade-off, we need to identify how pheromone circuits interface with sleep centers in the brain to modulate behavior. Two other recent papers shed light on this issue. In males, P1 neurons are activated by contact with females, and Chen et al. have shown that these neurons are connected with a set of wake-promoting neurons (Chen et al., 2017). In a separate study, Machado et al. discovered another pair of wake-promoting neurons that directly modulate courtship circuits (Machado et al., 2017).
Despite this progress, two central questions persist: how is the need for sleep sensed, and is sleep loss centrally integrated within the brain? So far, researchers have discovered many different neuronal circuits for sleep homeostasis within the fly brain, which could be directly or indirectly affected by sexual arousal and result in suppressed rebound sleep (Liu et al., 2016; Pimentel et al., 2016; Seidner et al., 2015). Identifying the neural circuits that regulate sleep and courtship will serve as a framework for determining the molecular sensors that know when we need to sleep.
Together, these findings highlight the integrated nature of sleep, and the way it is affected by the internal clock, the need for sleep and external factors, such as arousal. However, there is much that we do not know: for example, how do other external influences, such as stress, excitement or caffeine consumption, affect sleep loss and rebound sleep? Answering these questions will shed light on the basic functions of sleep.
Brain signal decoding promises significant advances in the development of clinical brain computer interfaces (BCI). In Parkinson’s disease (PD), first bidirectional BCI implants for adaptive deep brain stimulation (DBS) are now available. Brain signal decoding can extend the clinical utility of adaptive DBS but the impact of neural source, computational methods and PD pathophysiology on decoding performance are unknown. This represents an unmet need for the development of future neurotechnology. To address this, we developed an invasive brain-signal decoding approach based on intraoperative sensorimotor electrocorticography (ECoG) and subthalamic LFP to predict grip-force, a representative movement decoding application, in 11 PD patients undergoing DBS. We demonstrate that ECoG is superior to subthalamic LFP for accurate grip-force decoding. Gradient boosted decision trees (XGBOOST) outperformed other model architectures. ECoG based decoding performance negatively correlated with motor impairment, which could be attributed to subthalamic beta bursts in the motor preparation and movement period. This highlights the impact of PD pathophysiology on the neural capacity to encode movement vigor. Finally, we developed a connectomic analysis that could predict grip-force decoding performance of individual ECoG channels across patients by using their connectomic fingerprints. Our study provides a neurophysiological and computational framework for invasive brain signal decoding to aid the development of an individualized precision-medicine approach to intelligent adaptive DBS.
Aneuploidy, a state of chromosome imbalance, is a hallmark of human tumors, but its role in cancer still remains to be fully elucidated. To understand the consequences of whole-chromosome-level aneuploidies on the proteome, we integrated aneuploidy, transcriptomic, and proteomic data from hundreds of The Cancer Genome Atlas/Clinical Proteomic Tumor Analysis Consortium tumor samples. We found a surprisingly large number of expression changes happened on other, non-aneuploid chromosomes. Moreover, we identified an association between those changes and co-complex members of proteins from aneuploid chromosomes. This co-abundance association is tightly regulated for aggregation-prone aneuploid proteins and those involved in a smaller number of complexes. On the other hand, we observed that complexes of the cellular core machinery are under functional selection to maintain their stoichiometric balance in aneuploid tumors. Ultimately, we provide evidence that those compensatory and functional maintenance mechanisms are established through post-translational control, and that the degree of success of a tumor to deal with aneuploidy-induced stoichiometric imbalance impacts the activation of cellular protein degradation programs and patient survival.