Increased interaction between endoplasmic reticulum and mitochondria following sleep deprivation

Amina Aboufares El Alaoui, Edgar Buhl, Sabrina Galizia, James J L Hodge, Luisa de Vivo*, Michele Bellesi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Prolonged cellular activity may overload cell function, leading to high rates of protein synthesis and accumulation of misfolded or unassembled proteins, which cause endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and activate the unfolded protein response (UPR) to re-establish normal protein homeostasis. Previous molecular work has demonstrated that sleep deprivation (SD) leads to ER stress in neurons, with a number of ER-specific proteins being upregulated to maintain optimal cellular proteostasis. It is still not clear which cellular processes activated by sleep deprivation lead to ER- stress, but increased cellular metabolism, higher request for protein synthesis, and over production of oxygen radicals have been proposed as potential contributing factors. Here, we investigate the transcriptional and ultrastructural ER and mitochondrial modifications induced by sleep loss.

RESULTS: We used gene expression analysis in mouse forebrains to show that SD was associated with significant transcriptional modifications of genes involved in ER stress but also in ER-mitochondria interaction, calcium homeostasis, and mitochondrial respiratory activity. Using electron microscopy, we also showed that SD was associated with a general increase in the density of ER cisternae in pyramidal neurons of the motor cortex. Moreover, ER cisternae established new contact sites with mitochondria, the so-called mitochondria associated membranes (MAMs), important hubs for molecule shuttling, such as calcium and lipids, and for the modulation of ATP production and redox state. Finally, we demonstrated that Drosophila male mutant flies (elav > linker), in which the number of MAMs had been genetically increased, showed a reduction in the amount and consolidation of sleep without alterations in the homeostatic sleep response to SD.

CONCLUSIONS: We provide evidence that sleep loss induces ER stress characterized by increased crosstalk between ER and mitochondria. MAMs formation associated with SD could represent a key phenomenon for the modulation of multiple cellular processes that ensure appropriate responses to increased cell metabolism. In addition, MAMs establishment may play a role in the regulation of sleep under baseline conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1
JournalBMC Biology
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jan 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by Wellcome Trust Seed Award in Science 215267/Z/19/Z (MB), 217546/Z/19/Z (LdV) and BBSRC BB/W000865/1 (JJLH).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, Crown.


  • Animals
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Calcium/metabolism
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum/metabolism
  • Mitochondria/metabolism
  • Mitochondrial Membranes/metabolism
  • Sleep Deprivation/metabolism
  • Drosophila


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