Sleep and synaptic homeostasis: structural evidence in Drosophila.
The functions of sleep remain elusive, but a strong link exists between sleep need and neuronal plasticity. We tested the hypothesis that plastic processes during wake lead to a net increase in synaptic strength and sleep is necessary for synaptic renormalization. We found that, in three Drosophila neuronal circuits, synapse size or number increases after a few hours of wake and decreases only if flies are allowed to sleep. A richer wake experience resulted in both larger synaptic growth and greater sleep need. Finally, we demonstrate that the gene Fmr1 (fragile X mental retardation 1) plays an important role in sleep-dependent synaptic renormalization.