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Octopamine and Tyramine Contribute Separately to the Counter-Regulatory Response to Sugar Deficit in Drosophila

All animals constantly negotiate external with internal demands before and during action selection. Energy homeostasis is a major internal factor biasing action selection. For instance, in addition to physiologically regulating carbohydrate mobilization, starvation-induced sugar shortage also biases action selection toward food-seeking and food consumption behaviors (the counter-regulatory response). Biogenic amines are often involved when such widespread behavioral biases need to be orchestrated. In mammals, norepinephrine (noradrenalin) is involved in the counterregulatory response to starvation-induced drops in glucose levels. The invertebrate homolog of noradrenalin, octopamine (OA) and its precursor tyramine (TA) are neuromodulators operating in many different neuronal and physiological processes. Tyrosine-ß-hydroxylase (tßh) mutants are unable to convert TA into OA. We hypothesized that tßh mutant flies may be aberrant in some or all of the counter-regulatory responses to starvation and that techniques restoring gene function or amine signaling may elucidate potential mechanisms and sites of action. Corroborating our hypothesis, starved mutants show a reduced sugar response and their hemolymph sugar concentration is elevated compared to control flies. When starved, they survive longer. Temporally controlled rescue experiments revealed an action of the OA/TA-system during the sugar response, while spatially controlled rescue experiments suggest actions also outside of the nervous system. Additionally, the analysis of two OA- and four TA-receptor mutants suggests an involvement of both receptor types in the animals' physiological and neuronal response to starvation. These results complement the investigations in Apis mellifera described in our companion paper (Buckemüller et al., 2017).

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