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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Apr 15;111(15):5729-34. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1319116111. Epub 2014 Mar 31.

Systemic Activin signaling independently regulates sugar homeostasis, cellular metabolism, and pH balance in Drosophila melanogaster.

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Department of Genetics, Cell Biology, and Development, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55455.


The ability to maintain cellular and physiological metabolic homeostasis is key for the survival of multicellular organisms in changing environmental conditions. However, our understanding of extracellular signaling pathways that modulate metabolic processes remains limited. In this study we show that the Activin-like ligand Dawdle (Daw) is a major regulator of systemic metabolic homeostasis and cellular metabolism in Drosophila. We find that loss of canonical Smad signaling downstream of Daw leads to defects in sugar and systemic pH homeostasis. Although Daw regulates sugar homeostasis by positively influencing insulin release, we find that the effect of Daw on pH balance is independent of its role in insulin signaling and is caused by accumulation of organic acids that are primarily tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle intermediates. RNA sequencing reveals that a number of TCA cycle enzymes and nuclear-encoded mitochondrial genes including genes involved in oxidative phosphorylation and β-oxidation are up-regulated in the daw mutants, indicating either a direct or indirect role of Daw in regulating these genes. These findings establish Activin signaling as a major metabolic regulator and uncover a functional link between TGF-β signaling, insulin signaling, and metabolism in Drosophila.


acidosis; dIlp2; hormone

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