Parent-of-origin genetic background affects the transcriptional levels of circadian and neuronal plasticity genes following sleep loss

Federico Tinarelli, Celina Garcia-Garcia, Francesco Nicassio, Valter Tucci

Abstract

Sleep homoeostasis refers to a process in which the propensity to sleep increases as wakefulness progresses and decreases as sleep progresses. Sleep is tightly organized around the circadian clock and is regulated by genetic and epigenetic mechanisms. The homoeostatic response of sleep, which is classically triggered by sleep deprivation, is generally measured as a rebound effect of electrophysiological measures, for example delta sleep. However, more recently, gene expression changes following sleep loss have been investigated as biomarkers of sleep homoeostasis. The genetic background of an individual may affect this sleep-dependent gene expression phenotype. In this study, we investigated whether parental genetic background differentially modulates the expression of genes following sleep loss. We tested the progeny of reciprocal crosses of AKR/J and DBA/2J mouse strains and we show a parent-of-origin effect on the expression of circadian, sleep and neuronal plasticity genes following sleep deprivation. Thus, we further explored, by in silico, specific functions or upstream mechanisms of regulation and we observed that several upstream mechanisms involving signalling pathways (i.e. DICER1, PKA), growth factors (CSF3 and BDNF) and transcriptional regulators (EGR2 and ELK4) may be differentially modulated by parental effects. This is the first report showing that a behavioural manipulation (e.g. sleep deprivation) in adult animals triggers specific gene expression responses according to parent-of-origin genomic mechanisms. Our study suggests that the same mechanism may be extended to other behavioural domains and that the investigation of gene expression following experimental manipulations should take seriously into account parent-of-origin effects.

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