Sleep is vital for survival. Yet under environmentally challenging conditions, such as starvation, animals suppress their need for sleep. Interestingly, starvation-induced sleep loss does not evoke a subsequent sleep rebound. Little is known about how starvation-induced sleep deprivation differs from other types of sleep loss, or why some sleep functions become dispensable during starvation. Here, we demonstrate that down-regulation of the secreted cytokine unpaired 2 ( upd2) in Drosophila flies may mimic a starved-like state. We used a genetic knockdown strategy to investigate the consequences of upd2 on visual attention and sleep in otherwise well-fed flies, thereby sidestepping the negative side effects of undernourishment. We find that knockdown of upd2 in the fat body (FB) is sufficient to suppress sleep and promote feeding-related behaviors while also improving selective visual attention. Furthermore, we show that this peripheral signal is integrated in the fly brain via insulin-expressing cells. Together, these findings identify a role for peripheral tissue-to-brain interactions in the simultaneous regulation of sleep quality and attention, to potentially promote adaptive behaviors necessary for survival in hungry animals.
Hungry animals are often better off looking for food than sleeping. This study shows that attention is indeed sharpened while sleep is decreased in flies that have been genetically starved. This seems counterintuitive, because sleep deprivation normally impairs attention. A starvation cue from the peripheral fat stores to insulin-expressing cells in the brain seems responsible for sharpening attention in the face of decreased sleep.