A brain-wide form of presynaptic active zone plasticity orchestrates resilience to brain aging in Drosophila

Sheng Huang, Chengji Piao, Christine B. Beuschel, Zhiying Zhao, Stephan J. Sigrist

The brain as a central regulator of stress integration determines what is threatening, stores memories, and regulates physiological adaptations across the aging trajectory. While sleep homeostasis seems to be linked to brain resilience, how age-associated changes intersect to adapt brain resilience to life history remains enigmatic. We here provide evidence that a brain-wide form of presynaptic active zone plasticity (“PreScale”), characterized by increases of active zone scaffold proteins and synaptic vesicle release factors, integrates resilience by coupling sleep, longevity, and memory during early aging of Drosophila. PreScale increased over the brain until mid-age, to then decreased again, and promoted the age-typical adaption of sleep patterns as well as extended longevity, while at the same time it reduced the ability of forming new memories. Genetic induction of PreScale also mimicked early aging-associated adaption of sleep patterns and the neuronal activity/excitability of sleep control neurons. Spermidine supplementation, previously shown to suppress early aging-associated PreScale, also attenuated the age-typical sleep pattern changes. Pharmacological induction of sleep for 2 days in mid-age flies also reset PreScale, restored memory formation, and rejuvenated sleep patterns. Our data suggest that early along the aging trajectory, PreScale acts as an acute, brain-wide form of presynaptic plasticity to steer trade-offs between longevity, sleep, and memory formation in a still plastic phase of early brain aging.

PLoS Biol 20(12): e3001730 (2022)


biological locomotionDrosophilamemoryneuronal plasticitysleepsleep deprivationsynaptic plasticity
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