AMPK adapts metabolism to developmental energy requirement during dendrite pruning in Drosophila

Cell Rep. 2021 Nov 16;37(7):110024. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2021.110024.


To reshape neuronal connectivity in adult stages, Drosophila sensory neurons prune their dendrites during metamorphosis using a genetic degeneration program that is induced by the steroid hormone ecdysone. Metamorphosis is a nonfeeding stage that imposes metabolic constraints on development. We find that AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), a regulator of energy homeostasis, is cell-autonomously required for dendrite pruning. AMPK is activated by ecdysone and promotes oxidative phosphorylation and pyruvate usage, likely to enable neurons to use noncarbohydrate metabolites such as amino acids for energy production. Loss of AMPK or mitochondrial deficiency causes specific defects in pruning factor translation and the ubiquitin-proteasome system. Our findings distinguish pruning from pathological neurite degeneration, which is often induced by defects in energy production, and highlight how metabolism is adapted to fit energy-costly developmental transitions.

Keywords: AMPK; dendrite; proteasome; pruning; pyruvate; translation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • AMP-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism*
  • AMP-Activated Protein Kinases / physiology
  • Animals
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism
  • Dendrites / metabolism
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism*
  • Drosophila Proteins / physiology
  • Drosophila melanogaster / metabolism
  • Gene Expression / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / genetics
  • Metamorphosis, Biological / genetics
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Proteasome Endopeptidase Complex / metabolism
  • Pupa / genetics
  • Sensory Receptor Cells / metabolism
  • Transcriptome / genetics
  • Ubiquitin / metabolism


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Ubiquitin
  • AMPKalpha protein, Drosophila
  • AMP-Activated Protein Kinases
  • Proteasome Endopeptidase Complex