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Pediatr Res. 2009 Feb;65(2):132-7. doi: 10.1203/PDR.0b013e318191fc68.

The epicurean fly: using Drosophila melanogaster to study metabolism.

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Department of Pediatrics and Pharmacology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, Dallas, Texas 75390, USA.


In this review, the utility of Drosophila melanogaster as a model organism for research in metabolism will be demonstrated. Importantly, many metabolic pathways are conserved in both man and the fly. Recent work has highlighted that these conserved molecular pathways have the potential to give rise to similar phenotypes. For example, it has proven possible to generate obese and diabetic Drosophila; conversely, genetic manipulation can also generate lean and hypoglycemic phenotypes. From conserved circulating hormones to key enzymes, the fly is host to a variety of homologous, metabolically active signaling mechanisms. The world of Drosophila research has not only a rich history of developing techniques for exquisite genetic manipulation, but also continues to develop genetic methodologies at an exciting rate. Many of these techniques add to the cadre of experimental tools available for the use of the fly as a model organism for studying carbohydrate and lipid homeostasis. This review is written for the pediatric-scientist with little background in Drosophila, with the goal of relaying the potential of this model organism for contributing to a better understanding of diseases affecting today's children.

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