The control of lipid metabolism by mRNA splicing in Drosophila

R. M. Gingras
M. E. Warren
A. A. Nagengast
J. R. DiAngelo

Abstract

The storage of lipids is an evolutionarily conserved process that is important for the survival of organisms during shifts in nutrient availability. Triglycerides are stored in lipid droplets, but the mechanisms of how lipids are stored in these structures are poorly understood. Previous in vitro RNAi screens have implicated several components of the spliceosome in controlling lipid droplet formation and storage, but the in vivo relevance of these phenotypes is unclear. In this study, we identify specific members of the splicing machinery that are necessary for normal triglyceride storage in the Drosophila fat body. Decreasing the expression of the splicing factors U1-70K, U2AF38, U2AF50 in the fat body resulted in decreased triglyceride levels. Interestingly, while decreasing the SR protein 9G8 in the larval fat body yielded a similar triglyceride phenotype, its knockdown in the adult fat body resulted in a substantial increase in lipid stores. This increase in fat storage is due in part to altered splicing of the gene for the beta-oxidation enzyme CPTI, producing an isoform with less enzymatic activity. Together, these data indicate a role for mRNA splicing in regulating lipid storage in Drosophila and provide a link between the regulation of gene expression and lipid homeostasis. (C) 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.