Fat body glycogen serves as a metabolic safeguard for the maintenance of sugar levels in Drosophila

Development. 2018 Mar 14;145(6):dev158865. doi: 10.1242/dev.158865.


Adapting to changes in food availability is a central challenge for survival. Glucose is an important resource for energy production, and therefore many organisms synthesize and retain sugar storage molecules. In insects, glucose is stored in two different forms: the disaccharide trehalose and the branched polymer glycogen. Glycogen is synthesized and stored in several tissues, including in muscle and the fat body. Despite the major role of the fat body as a center for energy metabolism, the importance of its glycogen content remains unclear. Here, we show that glycogen metabolism is regulated in a tissue-specific manner under starvation conditions in the fruit fly Drosophila The mobilization of fat body glycogen in larvae is independent of Adipokinetic hormone (Akh, the glucagon homolog) but is regulated by sugar availability in a tissue-autonomous manner. Fat body glycogen plays a crucial role in the maintenance of circulating sugars, including trehalose, under fasting conditions. These results demonstrate the importance of fat body glycogen as a metabolic safeguard in Drosophila.

Keywords: Drosophila; Fat body; Glucagon; Glycogen; Insulin; Trehalose.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Animals
  • Drosophila / metabolism*
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism
  • Fat Body / metabolism*
  • Glycogen / metabolism*
  • Homeostasis / physiology
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Larva / metabolism
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Starvation / metabolism
  • Sugars / metabolism*


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Sugars
  • Glycogen