The Cellular Diversity and Transcription Factor Code of Drosophila Enteroendocrine Cells

Cell Rep. 2019 Dec 17;29(12):4172-4185.e5. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2019.11.048.


Enteroendocrine cells (EEs) in the intestinal epithelium have important endocrine functions, yet this cell lineage exhibits great local and regional variations that have hampered detailed characterization of EE subtypes. Through single-cell RNA-sequencing analysis, combined with a collection of peptide hormone and receptor knockin strains, here we provide a comprehensive analysis of cellular diversity, spatial distribution, and transcription factor (TF) code of EEs in adult Drosophila midgut. We identify 10 major EE subtypes that totally produced approximately 14 different classes of hormone peptides. Each EE on average co-produces approximately 2-5 different classes of hormone peptides. Functional screen with subtype-enriched TFs suggests a combinatorial TF code that controls EE cell diversity; class-specific TFs Mirr and Ptx1 respectively define two major classes of EEs, and regional TFs such as Esg, Drm, Exex, and Fer1 further define regional EE identity. Our single-cell data should greatly facilitate Drosophila modeling of EE differentiation and function.

Keywords: Drosophila midgut; Esg; Mirr; Notch; Ptx1; asymmetric cell division; classification; enteroendocrine cells; intestinal stem cell; neuropeptide.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation / genetics
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • Drosophila
  • Drosophila Proteins / genetics
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism*
  • Enteroendocrine Cells
  • Eye Proteins / genetics
  • Eye Proteins / metabolism
  • Homeodomain Proteins / genetics
  • Homeodomain Proteins / metabolism
  • Intestinal Mucosa / cytology*
  • Male
  • Receptors, Notch / genetics
  • Receptors, Notch / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / genetics
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Eye Proteins
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • N protein, Drosophila
  • Ptx1 protein, Drosophila
  • Receptors, Notch
  • Transcription Factors
  • esg protein, Drosophila
  • mirr protein, Drosophila