Nicholas Stavropoulos

Assistant Professor, Department of Neuroscience & Physiology
NYU Neuroscience Institute

450 East 29th St
Room 904 East River Science Park
New York, NY 10016
Tel: 646-501-9636
Fax: 646-501-4529

Research Summary:

Mechanisms underlying the regulation and function of sleep

Sleep is a fundamental and evolutionarily ancient animal behavior. Given that we spend one-third of our lives asleep—in a behavioral state largely disengaged from the external world—it is remarkable that the purpose of sleep is still not well understood. The long-term goals of our research are to identify and characterize genes, molecular mechanisms, and neuronal circuits underlying the regulation and function of sleep, and to understand how disruptions in these components are associated with sleep disorders.

Our studies currently focus on the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, which sleeps in a manner similar to mammals. Using powerful genetic tools available in Drosophila, we have isolated and characterized insomniac, a gene that functions within the brain to regulate the duration and consolidation of sleep. We have shown that insomniac is likely to engage protein degradation pathways within neurons, and that these pathways themselves have a vital role in regulating sleep. The extensive evolutionary conservation of insomniac and protein degradation mechanisms suggests that they may play a fundamental role in controlling sleep in animals.

Selected Publications:

  • Li Q, Kellner DA, Hatch HAM, Yumita T, Sanchez S, Machold RP, Frank CA, Stavropoulos N. (2017). Conserved properties of Drosophila Insomniac link sleep regulation and synaptic function. PLOS Genetics 13(5): e1006815.

  • Li Q, Stavropoulos N. (2016). Evaluation of Ligand-Inducible Expression Systems for Conditional Neuronal Manipulations of Sleep in Drosophila. G3 | Genes-Genomes-Genetics 6, 3351-3359.

  • Stavropoulos N, Young MW. (2011). insomniac and Cullin-3 regulate sleep and wakefulness in Drosophila. Neuron 72, 964-76.

  • Stavropoulos N, Rowntree RK, Lee JT. (2005). Identification of developmentally specific enhancers for Tsix in the regulation of X chromosome inactivation. Mol Cell Bio 25, 2757-69.

  • Stavropoulos N, Lu N, Lee JT. (2001). A functional role for Tsix transcription in blocking Xist RNA accumulation but not in X-chromosome choice. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 98, 10232-7.

Research image: