A cell atlas of the adult Drosophila midgut

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2020 Jan 21;117(3):1514-1523. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1916820117. Epub 2020 Jan 8.


Studies of the adult Drosophila midgut have led to many insights in our understanding of cell-type diversity, stem cell regeneration, tissue homeostasis, and cell fate decision. Advances in single-cell RNA sequencing provide opportunities to identify new cell types and molecular features. We used single-cell RNA sequencing to characterize the transcriptome of midgut epithelial cells and identified 22 distinct clusters representing intestinal stem cells, enteroblasts, enteroendocrine cells (EEs), and enterocytes. This unbiased approach recovered most of the known intestinal stem cells/enteroblast and EE markers, highlighting the high quality of the dataset, and led to insights on intestinal stem cell biology, cell type-specific organelle features, the roles of new transcription factors in progenitors and regional variation along the gut, 5 additional EE gut hormones, EE hormonal expression diversity, and paracrine function of EEs. To facilitate mining of this rich dataset, we provide a web-based resource for visualization of gene expression in single cells. Altogether, our study provides a comprehensive resource for addressing functions of genes in the midgut epithelium.

Keywords: Drosophila; enteroblast; enteroendocrine cell; gut; stem cell.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Digestive System / cytology
  • Digestive System / metabolism*
  • Drosophila / cytology
  • Drosophila / genetics
  • Drosophila / metabolism*
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism
  • Enterocytes / metabolism
  • Enteroendocrine Cells / metabolism
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism
  • Epithelium / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Hormones / metabolism
  • Intestines / cytology
  • Stem Cells / cytology
  • Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Transcriptome*


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Hormones
  • Transcription Factors