RNA-seq analysis of galaninergic neurons from ventrolateral preoptic nucleus identifies expression changes between sleep and wake
Background Previous studies show that galanin neurons in ventrolateral preoptic nucleus (VLPO-Gal) are essential for sleep regulation. Here, we explored the transcriptional regulation of the VLPO-Gal neurons in sleep by comparing their transcriptional responses between sleeping mice and those kept awake, sacrificed at the same diurnal time. Results RNA-sequencing (RNA-seq) analysis was performed on eGFP(+) galanin neurons isolated using laser captured microdissection (LCM) from VLPO. Expression
... om VLPO. Expression of Gal was assessed in our LCM eGFP(+) neurons via real time qPCR and showed marked enrichment when compared to LCM eGFP(−) cells and to bulk VLPO samples. Gene set enrichment analysis utilizing data from a recent single-cell RNA-seq study of the preoptic area demonstrated that our VLPO-Gal samples were highly enriched with galanin-expressing inhibitory neurons, but not galanin-expressing excitatory neurons. A total of 263 genes were differentially expressed between sleep and wake in VLPO-Gal neurons. When comparing differentially expressed genes in VLPO-Gal neurons to differentially expressed genes in a wake-active neuronal region (the medial prefrontal cortex), evidence indicates that both systemic and cell-specific mechanisms contribute to the transcriptional regulation in VLPO-Gal neurons. In both wake-active and sleep-active neurons, ER stress pathways are activated by wake and cold-inducible RNA-binding proteins are activated by sleep. In contrast, expression of DNA repair genes is increased in VLPO-Gal during wakefulness, but increased in wake-active cells during sleep. Conclusion Our study identified transcriptomic responses of the galanin neurons in the ventrolateral preoptic nucleus during sleep and sleep deprivation. Data indicate that VLPO contains mainly sleep-active inhibitory galaninergic neurons. The VLPO galanin neurons show responses to sleep and wake similar to wake-active regions, indicating these responses, such as ER stress and cold-inducible RNA-binding proteins, are systemic affecting all neuronal populations. Region-specific differences in sleep/wake responses were also identified, in particular DNA repair. Our study expands knowledge about the transcriptional response of a distinct group of neurons essential for sleep.