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Drosophila insulin-like peptides (DILPs) play important hormonal roles in the regulation of metabolic carbohydrates and lipids, but also in reproduction, growth, stress resistance and aging. In spite of intense studies of insulin signaling in Drosophilag the regulation of DILP production and release in adult fruit flies is poorly understood. Here we investigated the role of Drosophila tachykinin-related peptides (DTKs) and their receptors, DTKR and NKD, in the regulation of brain insulin-producing cells (IPCs) and aspects of DILP signaling. First, we show DTK-immunoreactive axon terminations close to the presumed dendrites of the IPCs, and DTKR immunolabeling in these cells. Second, we utilized targeted RNA interference to knock down expression of the DTK receptor, DTKR, in IPCs and monitored the effects on Dilp transcript levels in the brains of fed and starved flies. Dilp2 and Dilp3, but not Dilp5, transcripts were significantly affected by DTKR knockdown in IPCs, both in fed and starved flies. Both Dilp2 and Dilp3 transcripts increased in fed flies with DTKR diminished in IPCs whereas at starvation the Dilp3 transcript plummeted and Dilp2 increased. We also measured trehalose and lipid levels as well as survival in transgene flies at starvation. Knockdown of DTKR in IPCs leads to increased lifespan and a faster decrease of trehalose at starvation but has no significant effect on lipid levels. Finally, we targeted the IPCs with RNAi or ectopic expression of the other DTK receptor, NKD, but found no effect on survival at starvation. Our results suggest that DTK signaling, via DTKR, regulates the brain IPCs.


Ryan T Birse, Jeannette A E Söderberg, Jiangnan Luo, Asa M E Winther, Dick R Nässel. Regulation of insulin-producing cells in the adult Drosophila brain via the tachykinin peptide receptor DTKR. The Journal of experimental biology. 2011 Dec 15;214(Pt 24):4201-8

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PMID: 22116763

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