Long-chain fatty acids and ethanol affect the properties of membranes in Drosophila melanogaster larvae

Biochem Genet. 1993 Apr;31(3-4):113-31. doi: 10.1007/BF02399919.


The larval fatty acid composition of neutral lipids and membrane lipids was determined in three ethanol-tolerant strains of Drosophila melanogaster. Dietary ethanol promoted a decrease in long-chain fatty acids in neutral lipids along with enhanced alcohol dehydrogenase (EC activity in all of the strains. Dietary ethanol also increased the incorporation of 14C-ethanol into fatty acid ethyl esters (FAEE) by two- to threefold and decreased the incorporation of 14C-ethanol into free fatty acids (FFA). When cultured on sterile, defined media with stearic acid at 0 to 5 mM, stearic acid decreased ADH activity up to 33%. In strains not selected for superior tolerance to ethanol, dietary ethanol promoted a loss of long-chain fatty acids in membrane lipids. The loss of long-chain fatty acids in membranes was strongly correlated with increased fluidity in hydrophobic domains of mitochondrial membranes as determined by electron spin resonance and correlated with a loss of ethanol tolerance. In the ethanol-tolerant E2 strain, which had been exposed to ethanol for many generations, dietary ethanol failed to promote a loss of long-chain fatty acids in membrane lipids.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Dehydrogenase / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Diet
  • Drosophila melanogaster
  • Drug Tolerance
  • Electron Spin Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Ethanol / pharmacology*
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism*
  • Intracellular Membranes / drug effects
  • Intracellular Membranes / metabolism
  • Larva
  • Membrane Fluidity
  • Membrane Lipids / metabolism*
  • Mitochondria / drug effects
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Species Specificity
  • Stearic Acids / pharmacology


  • Fatty Acids
  • Membrane Lipids
  • Stearic Acids
  • Ethanol
  • Alcohol Dehydrogenase