The GABAA Receptor RDL Acts in Peptidergic PDF Neurons to Promote Sleep in Drosophila

Brian Y. Chung, Valerie L. Kilman, J. Russel Keath, Jena L. Pitman, Ravi Allada*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

154 Scopus citations


Sleep is regulated by a circadian clock that times sleep and wake to specific times of day and a homeostat that drives sleep as a function of prior wakefulness [1]. To analyze the role of the circadian clock, we have used the fruit fly Drosophila [2]. Flies display the core behavioral features of sleep, including relative immobility, elevated arousal thresholds, and homeostatic regulation [2, 3]. We assessed sleep-wake modulation by a core set of circadian pacemaker neurons that express the neuropeptide PDF. We find that disruption of PDF function increases sleep during the late night in light:dark and the first subjective day of constant darkness. Flies deploy genetic and neurotransmitter pathways to regulate sleep that are similar to those of their mammalian counterparts, including GABA [4]. We find that RNA interference-mediated knockdown of the GABAA receptor gene, Resistant to dieldrin (Rdl), in PDF neurons reduces sleep, consistent with a role for GABA in inhibiting PDF neuron function. Patch-clamp electrophysiology reveals GABA-activated picrotoxin-sensitive chloride currents on PDF+ neurons. In addition, RDL is detectable most strongly on the large subset of PDF+ pacemaker neurons. These results suggest that GABAergic inhibition of arousal-promoting PDF neurons is an important mode of sleep-wake regulation in vivo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)386-390
Number of pages5
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 10 2009



ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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