Live imaging using a FRET glucose sensor reveals glucose delivery to all cell types in the Drosophila brain

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Abstract

All complex nervous systems are metabolically separated from circulation by a blood-brain barrier (BBB) that prevents uncontrolled leakage of solutes into the brain. Thus, all metabolites needed to sustain energy homeostasis must be transported across this BBB. In invertebrates, such as Drosophila, the major carbohydrate in circulation is the disaccharide trehalose and specific trehalose transporters are expressed by the glial BBB. Here we analyzed whether glucose is able to contribute to energy homeostasis in Drosophila. To study glucose influx into the brain we utilized a genetically encoded, FRET-based glucose sensor expressed in a cell type specific manner. When confronted with glucose all brain cells take up glucose within two minutes. In order to characterize the glucose transporter involved, we studied Drosophila Glut1, the homologue of which is primarily expressed by the BBB-forming endothelial cells and astrocytes in the mammalian nervous system. In Drosophila, however, Glut1 is expressed in neurons and is not found at the BBB. Thus, Glut1 cannot contribute to initial glucose uptake from the hemolymph. To test whether gap junctional coupling between the BBB forming cells and other neural cells contributes to glucose distribution we assayed these junctions using RNAi experiments and only found a minor contribution of gap junctions to glucose metabolism. Our results provide the entry point to further dissect the mechanisms underlying glucose distribution and offer new opportunities to understand brain metabolism.

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Volkenhoff, A., Hirrlinger, J., Kappel, J. M., Klämbt, C., & Schirmeier, S. (2018). Live imaging using a FRET glucose sensor reveals glucose delivery to all cell types in the Drosophila brain. Journal of Insect Physiology, 106, 55–64. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jinsphys.2017.07.010

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