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Regulation of food intake by mechanosensory ion channels in enteric neurons

  1. William H Olds
  2. Tian Xu  Is a corresponding author
  1. Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Boyer Center for Molecular Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, United States
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Cite this article as: eLife 2014;3:e04402 doi: 10.7554/eLife.04402


Regulation of food intake is fundamental to energy homeostasis in animals. The contribution of non-nutritive and metabolic signals in regulating feeding is unclear. Here we show that enteric neurons play a major role in regulating feeding through specialized mechanosensory ion channels in Drosophila. Modulating activities of a specific subset of enteric neurons, the posterior enteric neurons (PENs), results in 6-fold changes in food intake. Deficiency of the mechanosensory ion channel PPK1 gene or RNAi knockdown of its expression in the PENS result in a similar increase in food intake, which can be rescued by expression of wild-type PPK1 in the same neurons. Finally, pharmacological inhibition of the mechanosensory ion channel phenocopies the result of genetic interrogation. Together, our study provides the first molecular genetic evidence that mechanosensory ion channels in the enteric neurons are involved in regulating feeding, offering an enticing alternative to current therapeutic strategy for weight control.

Article and author information

Author details

  1. William H Olds

    Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Boyer Center for Molecular Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  2. Tian Xu

    Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Boyer Center for Molecular Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, United States
    For correspondence
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.

Reviewing Editor

  1. Michael Czech, University of Massachusetts Medical School, United States

Publication history

  1. Received: August 17, 2014
  2. Accepted: October 2, 2014
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: October 6, 2014 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: November 10, 2014 (version 2)


© 2014, Olds & Xu

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.


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Further reading

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