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A Clock-Driven Neural Network Critical for Arousal

By Benjamin J. Bell, Qiang Liu, Dong Won Kim, Sang Soo Lee, Qili Liu, Ian D. Blum, Annette A. Wang, Joseph L. Bedont, Anna J. Chang, Habon Issa, Jeremiah Y. Cohen, Seth Blackshaw, Mark N. Wu

Posted 14 Mar 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.03.12.989921

The daily cycling of sleep and arousal states is among the most prominent biological rhythms under circadian control. While much is known about the core circadian clock1,2, how this clock tunes sleep and arousal remains poorly understood3. In Drosophila , we previously characterized WIDE AWAKE (WAKE), a clock-output molecule that promotes sleep at night4,5. Here, we show that the function of WAKE in regulating circadian-dependent neural excitability and arousal is conserved in mice. mWake+ cells are found in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) and dorsomedial hypothalamus (DMH). mWakeDMH neurons drive wakefulness and exhibit rhythmic spiking, with greater firing during the night vs the day. Loss of mWAKE leads to increased spiking of mWake+ SCN and DMH neurons and prominent behavioural arousal, specifically during the night. Single-cell sequencing, imaging, and patch-clamp experiments reveal that mWakeDMH neurons constitute a glutamatergic/GABAergic population that projects widely, receives neuromodulatory input, and acts on neuromodulatory neurons. Strikingly, broad chemogenetic silencing of mWake+ cells leads to profound loss of behavioural responsiveness and low amplitude, low frequency electroencephalography waveforms. These findings suggest that the genetic mechanisms regulating circadian control of sleep and arousal are conserved across >500 million years of evolution and define a clock-regulated neural network critical for arousal. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.

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