The role of sleep in brain plasticity: focus on the synaptic translatome

Year of award: 2017


  • Dr Julie Seibt

    University of Surrey

Project summary

Brain plasticity consolidation involves stabilisation of changes at synapses. It can be supported by sleep but the molecular mechanisms underlying sleep’s contribution to synaptic consolidation remain largely unknown. Synaptic plasticity consolidation requires local protein synthesis, such as translation of mRNAs. These proteins are essential for the structural modification of synapses. The influence of sleep on the synaptic translatome – the pool of mRNAs actively being translated – has never been investigated.

We will demonstrate that synaptic translation is enhanced during sleep and more so in conditions of enhanced brain plasticity and we will identify the specific mRNAs that are translated during sleep. Translation at synapses will be quantified using puromycin labelling. Changes in the translatome at synapses will be quantified by exome sequencing of polysome-bound mRNAs. Cortical tissue will be harvested from rats after periods of sleep, sleep deprivation and/or exposure to an enriched environment and this will determine the role of sleep and plasticity in synaptic translation 

This research will produce data that can be used for a larger research application on the role of sleep in brain plasticity across the lifespan.