Regulation of fat cell mass by insulin in Drosophila melanogaster

Justin R. DiAngelo, Morris J. Birnbaum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

126 Scopus citations


A phylogenetically conserved response to nutritional abundance is an increase in insulin signaling, which initiates a set of biological responses dependent on the species. Consequences of augmented insulin signaling include developmental progression, cell and organ growth, and the storage of carbohydrates and lipids. Here, we address the evolutionary origins of insulin's positive effects on anabolic lipid metabolism by selectively modulating insulin signaling in the fat body of the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster. Analogous to the actions of insulin in higher vertebrates, those in Drosophila include expansion of the insect fat cell mass both by increasing the adipocyte number and by promoting lipid accumulation. The ability of insulin to accomplish the former depends on its capacity to bring about phosphorylation and inhibition of the transcription factor Drosophila FOXO (dFOXO) and the serine/threonine protein kinase shaggy, the fly ortholog of glycogen synthase kinase 3 (GSK3). Increasing the amount of triglyceride per cell also depends on the phosphorylation of shaggy but is independent of dFOXO. Thus, the findings of this study provide evidence that the control of fat mass by insulin is a conserved process and place dFOXO and shaggy/GSK3 downstream of the insulin receptor in controlling adipocyte cell number and triglyceride storage, respectively.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6341-6352
Number of pages12
JournalMolecular and cellular biology
Issue number24
StatePublished - Dec 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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