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Orchestration of Drosophila post-feeding physiology and behavior by the neuropeptide leucokinin

By Meet Zandawala, Maria E Yurgel, Sifang Liao, Michael J. Texada, Kim Rewitz, Alex C. Keene, Dick R. Nässel

Posted 26 Jun 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/355107 (published DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1007767)

Behavior and physiology are orchestrated by neuropeptides acting as neuromodulators and/or circulating hormones. A central question is how these neuropeptides function to coordinate complex and competing behaviors. The neuropeptide leucokinin (LK) modulates diverse functions, including circadian rhythms, feeding, water homeostasis, and sleep, but the mechanisms underlying these complex interactions remain poorly understood. Here, we delineate the LK circuitry that governs homeostatic functions that are critical for survival. We found that impaired LK signaling affects diverse but coordinated processes, including regulation of stress, water homeostasis, locomotor activity, and metabolic rate. There are three different sets of LK neurons, which contribute to different aspects of this physiology. We show that the calcium activity of abdominal ganglia LK neurons (ABLKs) increases specifically following water consumption, but not under other conditions, suggesting that these neurons regulate water homeostasis and its associated physiology. To identify targets of LK peptide, we mapped the distribution of Lkr, mined brain single-cell transcriptome dataset for genes coexpressed with Lkr and utilized trans-synaptic labeling to identify synaptic partners of LK neurons. Lkr expression in the brain insulin-producing cells (IPCs), gut, renal tubules and sensory cells, and the post-synaptic signal in sensory neurons, correlates well with regulatory roles detected in the Lk and Lkr mutants. Furthermore, these mutants and flies with targeted knockdown of Lkr in IPCs displayed altered expression of insulin-like peptides (DILPs) in IPCs and modulated stress responses. Thus, some effects of LK signaling appear to occur via DILP action. Collectively, our data suggest that the three sets of LK neurons orchestrate the establishment of post-prandial homeostasis by regulating distinct physiological processes and behaviors such as diuresis, metabolism, organismal activity and insulin signaling. These findings provide a platform for investigating neuroendocrine regulation of behavior and brain-to-periphery communication.

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