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Juvenile Hormone esterase is a conserved regulator of starvation-induced behavior Stafford, Jeffrey

Abstract

Although feeding behavior is a matter of life and death for animals, the genetic factors that control it remain poorly understood. We have identified a novel regulator of hunger-induced behavior through comparison of transcriptomic changes in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster and the yellow fever mosquito Aedes aegypti. Head mRNA from each insect was sequenced at a roughly equivalent level of starvation. Using data gleaned from the protein orthology database OrthoDB, we looked for gene pairs in which both A. aegypti and D. melanogaster orthologs were significantly regulated by starvation. This identified Juvenile Hormone esterase (Jhe) as a possible modulator of hunger-induced behavior. Pan-neuronal knockdown of Jhe resulted in increased food consumption and caused enhancement of starvation-induced sleep suppression in Drosophila. These behavioral phenotypes were not caused by a developmental or metabolic defects, and were reproduced by feeding adult Drosophila methoprene, a synthetic Juvenile Hormone analog. Application of precocene I, an inhibitor of Juvenile Hormone biosynthesis, reversed the phenotype. Our analysis suggests that Jhe (and Juvenile Hormone by extension) is a novel and biologically relevant regulator of hunger-induced behavior.

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