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This article has been peer reviewed. It is the author’s final published version in eLife

Volume 6, March 2014, Article number e23130.

The published version is available at DOI: 10.7554/eLife.23130. Copyright © Machado et al.


Molecular and circuit mechanisms for balancing competing drives are not well understood. While circadian and homeostatic mechanisms generally ensure sufficient sleep at night, other pressing needs can overcome sleep drive. Here, we demonstrate that the balance between sleep and sex drives determines whether male flies sleep or court, and identify a subset of octopaminergic neurons (MS1) that regulate sleep specifically in males. When MS1 neurons are activated, isolated males sleep less, and when MS1 neurons are silenced, the normal male sleep suppression in female presence is attenuated and mating behavior is impaired. MS1 neurons do not express the sexually dimorphic FRUITLESS (FRU) transcription factor, but form male-specific contacts with FRU-expressing neurons; calcium imaging experiments reveal bidirectional functional connectivity between MS1 and FRU neurons. We propose octopaminergic MS1 neurons interact with the FRU network to mediate sleep suppression by male sex drive.

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