Under fasting conditions, metazoans maintain energy balance by shifting from glucose to fat burning. In the fasted state, SIRT1 promotes catabolic gene expression by deacetylating the forkhead factor FOXO in response to stress and nutrient deprivation. The mechanisms by which hormonal signals regulate FOXO deacetylation remain unclear, however. We identified a hormone-dependent module, consisting of the Ser/Thr kinase SIK3 and the class IIa deacetylase HDAC4, which regulates FOXO activity in Drosophila. During feeding, HDAC4 is phosphorylated and sequestered in the cytoplasm by SIK3, whose activity is upregulated in response to insulin. SIK3 is inactivated during fasting, leading to the dephosphorylation and nuclear translocation of HDAC4 and to FOXO deacetylation. SIK3 mutant flies are starvation sensitive, reflecting FOXO-dependent increases in lipolysis that deplete triglyceride stores; reducing HDAC4 expression restored lipid accumulation. Our results reveal a hormone-regulated pathway that functions in parallel with the nutrient-sensing SIRT1 pathway to maintain energy balance.
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