Mechanical stimulation from the surrounding tissue activates mitochondrial energy metabolism in Drosophila differentiating germ cells

Dev Cell. 2023 Nov 6;58(21):2249-2260.e9. doi: 10.1016/j.devcel.2023.08.007. Epub 2023 Aug 29.


In multicellular lives, the differentiation of stem cells and progenitor cells is often accompanied by a transition from glycolysis to mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS). However, the underlying mechanism of this metabolic transition remains largely unknown. In this study, we investigate the role of mechanical stress in activating OXPHOS during differentiation of the female germline cyst in Drosophila. We demonstrate that the surrounding somatic cells flatten the 16-cell differentiating cyst, resulting in an increase of the membrane tension of germ cells inside the cyst. This mechanical stress is necessary to maintain cytosolic Ca2+ concentration in germ cells through a mechanically activated channel, transmembrane channel-like. The sustained cytosolic Ca2+ triggers a CaMKI-Fray-JNK signaling relay, leading to the transcriptional activation of OXPHOS in differentiating cysts. Our findings demonstrate a molecular link between cell mechanics and mitochondrial energy metabolism, with implications for other developmentally orchestrated metabolic transitions in mammals.

Keywords: CaMKI; Fray; JNK; Myc; TMC; calcium; mechanotransduction; mitochondria; oogenesis; oxidative phosphorylation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Drosophila Proteins* / metabolism
  • Drosophila* / metabolism
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Germ Cells / metabolism
  • Mammals / metabolism


  • Drosophila Proteins