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Cell Mol Life Sci. 2012 Dec;69(23):4051-66. doi: 10.1007/s00018-012-1097-z. Epub 2012 Jul 25.

Identified peptidergic neurons in the Drosophila brain regulate insulin-producing cells, stress responses and metabolism by coexpressed short neuropeptide F and corazonin.

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Department of Zoology, Stockholm University, 10691, Stockholm, Sweden.


Insulin/IGF-like signaling regulates the development, growth, fecundity, metabolic homeostasis, stress resistance and lifespan in worms, flies and mammals. Eight insulin-like peptides (DILP1-8) are found in Drosophila. Three of these (DILP2, 3 and 5) are produced by a set of median neurosecretory cells (insulin-producing cells, IPCs) in the brain. Activity in the IPCs of adult flies is regulated by glucose and several neurotransmitters and neuropeptides. One of these, short neuropeptide F (sNPF), regulates food intake, growth and Dilp transcript levels in IPCs via the sNPF receptor (sNPFR1) expressed on IPCs. Here we identify a set of brain neurons that utilizes sNPF to activate the IPCs. These sNPF-expressing neurons (dorsal lateral peptidergic neurons, DLPs) also produce the neuropeptide corazonin (CRZ) and have axon terminations impinging on IPCs. Knockdown of either sNPF or CRZ in DLPs extends survival in flies exposed to starvation and alters carbohydrate and lipid metabolism. Expression of sNPF in DLPs in the sNPF mutant background is sufficient to rescue wild-type metabolism and response to starvation. Since CRZ receptor RNAi in IPCs affects starvation resistance and metabolism, similar to peptide knockdown in DLPs, it is likely that also CRZ targets the IPCs. Knockdown of sNPF, but not CRZ in DLPs decreases transcription of Dilp2 and 5 in the brain, suggesting different mechanisms of action on IPCs of the two co-released peptides. Our findings indicate that sNPF and CRZ co-released from a small set of neurons regulate IPCs, stress resistance and metabolism in adult Drosophila.

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