Animals recognize the availability of nutrients and regulate the intake and storage of these nutrients accordingly. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying nutrient sensing and subsequent changes in behavior and metabolism are not fully understood. Mlx interactor (Mio), the Drosophila homolog of carbohydrate response element binding protein (ChREBP), functions as a transcription factor in the fat body of the fly to control triglyceride storage as well as feeding, suggesting that Mio may act in a nutrient-sensing pathway to coordinate food consumption and metabolism. Here, we show that Mio functions in neurons in Drosophila to regulate feeding and nutrient storage. Pan-neuronal disruption of Mio function leads to increased triglyceride and glycogen storage, and this phenotype is not due to increased food consumption. Interestingly, targeted disruption of Mio specifically in the insulin-producing cells (IPCs) has little effect on nutrient storage, but increases food consumption suggesting that Mio acts in these neurons to control feeding behavior. Since Mio is a transcription factor, one possible way Mio may act in the IPCs to control feeding is through regulating the expression of Drosophila insulin-like peptides (dilps) or drosulfakinin (dsk), neuropeptides produced in the IPCs. Consistent with this hypothesis, IPC-specific knockdown of Mio leads to an increase in dilp3 expression, while not affecting dilp2, 5 or dsk levels. Together, this study indicates a new function for Mio in the Drosophila brain and specifically in the IPCs, controlling neuropeptide gene expression, feeding and metabolism in accordance with nutrient availability.
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