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Mol Endocrinol. 2011 Jan;25(1):83-91. doi: 10.1210/me.2010-0337. Epub 2010 Nov 17.

The Drosophila NR4A nuclear receptor DHR38 regulates carbohydrate metabolism and glycogen storage.

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University of Utah, 15 North 2030 East, Salt Lake City, UT 84112-5330, USA.


Animals balance nutrient storage and mobilization to maintain metabolic homeostasis, a process that is disrupted in metabolic diseases like obesity and diabetes. Here, we show that DHR38, the single fly ortholog of the mammalian nuclear receptor 4A family of nuclear receptors, regulates glycogen storage during the larval stages of Drosophila melanogaster. DHR38 is expressed and active in the gut and body wall of larvae, and its expression levels change in response to nutritional status. DHR38 null mutants have normal levels of glucose, trehalose (the major circulating form of sugar), and triacylglycerol but display reduced levels of glycogen in the body wall muscles, which constitute the primary storage site for carbohydrates. Microarray analysis reveals that many metabolic genes are mis-regulated in DHR38 mutants. These include phosphoglucomutase, which is required for glycogen synthesis, and the two genes that encode the digestive enzyme amylase, accounting for the reduced amylase enzyme activity seen in DHR38 mutant larvae. These studies demonstrate that a critical role of nuclear receptor 4A receptors in carbohydrate metabolism has been conserved through evolution and that nutritional regulation of DHR38 expression maintains the proper uptake and storage of glycogen during the growing larval stage of development.

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