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J Insect Physiol. 2018 Apr;106(Pt 1):30-35. doi: 10.1016/j.jinsphys.2017.08.006. Epub 2017 Aug 24.

Gonadal ecdysone titers are modulated by protein availability but do not impact protein appetite.

Author information

1
Behavior and Metabolism Laboratory, Champalimaud Research, Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown, Lisbon 1400-038, Portugal.
2
Behavior and Metabolism Laboratory, Champalimaud Research, Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown, Lisbon 1400-038, Portugal. Electronic address: Carlos.Ribeiro@neuro.fchampalimaud.org.

Abstract

How animals survey internal nutrient availability to modulate specific appetites is currently largely unknown. Dietary proteins have a profound impact on the reproductive capacity and the selection of food sources in insects. When deprived of dietary proteins, insects stop producing eggs and develop strong protein appetites. In many adult insects, the ovaries are the site of synthesis of the ecdysone hormone. Therefore, an attractive hypothesis is that protein availability changes the gonadal production of ecdysone, which instructs the brain to increase its preference for yeast. We combine quantitative feeding assays, dietary manipulations, hormonal measurements, and genetic germline manipulations to test this hypothesis in Drosophila melanogaster. Our results show that upon yeast deprivation mated adult female Drosophila develop a strong yeast appetite and strongly reduce their egg production. This dietary manipulation also leads to a drastic reduction in ecdysone titers. However, the drop in ecdysone is not linked to the increase in yeast appetite as mutants with impaired oogenesis are able to adapt yeast intake to their nutrient state while displaying a constitutive low ecdysone titer. Interestingly, a low ecdysone titer is correlated with a lower level of overall food intake. Our data therefore show that in mated females the level of ecdysone reflects the level of protein in the diet and the physiological state of the ovaries. While the ovaries and ecdysone are unlikely to instruct the brain to develop a yeast appetite upon protein deprivation, they seem to be able to control overall food intake.

KEYWORDS:

Drosophila melanogaster; Ecdysone; Feeding behavior; Gonads; Nutrient homeostasis; Protein appetite

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