Research Summary

Role of IP3 receptor mediated neuropeptide release in Drosophila feeding and metabolism

Feeding and metabolism are complex, inter-linked processes that need to be tightly monitored and regulated for optimum growth, development and energy balance. Such processes require coordination between the brain and other organ systems: coordination that is moderated by the release or withdrawal of specific neuropeptides. While a number of neuropeptides have been identified, there is as yet a poor understanding of how their release is regulated. Neuropeptides are typically packaged into secretory vesicles in cells and an elevation of intracellular calcium is required for their release. In this Fellowship, I will investigate if and how the IP3 receptor, an ER-based ligand gated Calcium channel whose activation results in an elevation of intracellular calcium, regulates neuropeptide release. I will specifically focus on neuropeptides implicated in Drosophila feeding and metabolism as mis-regulation in these processes can lead to metabolic disorders such as obesity and diabetes. I hope to demonstrate that neuropeptide-producing cells require functional IP3 receptor in order to result in optimal behavioural and physiological responses to metabolic stresses such as poor nutrition. As neuropeptide-producing cells share many common features and many Drosophila neuropeptides are conserved across species, including humans, it is hoped that this work would contribute to our understanding of neuropeptide release from neurons.