Transforming Growth Factor β/Activin signaling in neurons increases susceptibility to starvation

PLoS One. 2017 Oct 30;12(10):e0187054. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0187054. eCollection 2017.


Animals rely on complex signaling network to mobilize its energy stores during starvation. We have previously shown that the sugar-responsive TGFβ/Activin pathway, activated through the TGFβ ligand Dawdle, plays a central role in shaping the post-prandial digestive competence in the Drosophila midgut. Nevertheless, little is known about the TGFβ/Activin signaling in sugar metabolism beyond the midgut. Here, we address the importance of Dawdle (Daw) after carbohydrate ingestion. We found that Daw expression is coupled to dietary glucose through the evolutionarily conserved Mio-Mlx transcriptional complex. In addition, Daw activates the TGFβ/Activin signaling in neuronal populations to regulate triglyceride and glycogen catabolism and energy homeostasis. Loss of those neurons depleted metabolic reserves and rendered flies susceptible to starvation.

MeSH terms

  • Activins / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Drosophila
  • Glycogen / metabolism
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Starvation*
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / metabolism*
  • Triglycerides / metabolism


  • Transforming Growth Factor beta
  • Triglycerides
  • Activins
  • Glycogen

Grants and funding

The work is funded by the Swiss National Fund (3100A0-12079/1). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.