Although only distantly related to humans, many aspects of energy homeostasis are conserved in Drosophila melanogaster. Previous results suggested that synphilin-1 (SP1), a cytoplasmic protein enriched in neurons, can regulate metabolic homeostasis in mice. Liu et al. further investigated the function of this protein using Drosophila as a tool, and report that transgenic expression of human SP1 in neurons, but not in the periphery, results in increased fat accumulation. SP1 expression in dopaminergic neurons induced modest increases in the body weight of adult flies, and doubled the size of the fat body (the functional equivalent of adipose tissue) and lipid droplets in larvae. The results of additional assays attributed these changes to increased food intake, rather than decreased energy expenditure. This study validates Drosophila for studying neuronal control of metabolic homeostasis and suggests a newly identified function of SP1 in control of energy balance.

T. H.
W. W.
Synphilin-1 alters metabolic homeostasis in a novel Drosophila obesity model
Int. J. Obes.
doi: [Epub ahead of print].

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