All Posts Author: Hughes, Rachel

Altered regulation of sleep and feeding contributes to starvation resistance in Drosophila melanogaster

By generating starvation- resistant flies through experimental evolution, these researchers at UNLV were able to more closely observe the relationships between sleep behavior, feeding, foraging, and starvation resistance. Because sleep and feeding are related to metabolic rates, they could potentially contribute to Drosophila melanogaster resistance under starvation conditions.  The flies used in this experiment have been bred over 60 generations in order to become starvation resistant. These flies were bred on an agar diet that was devoid of calories, and live around 18 days when under starvation conditions. Flies that have not been selected for starvation resistance survive around 2-3 days.

Octopamine controls starvation resistance, life span and metabolic traits in Drosophil

Survival of organisms depends partially on their response to stress. For Humans and other organisms, these responses are regulated, it part, by epinephrine and norepinephrine. This system in humans contains many feedback loops and is complicated to study. Invertebrate systems are easier to study. This research focuses on how similar chemicals in Drosophila have an effect certain characteristics. Specifically their research found that chemicals had an effect on lifespan, starvation resistance, and body fat in fruit flies, as well as other minor traits.

Role of the metF and metJ genes on the vitamin B12 regulation of methionine gene expression: Involvement of N5-methyltetrahydrofolic acid

This article examines the process of metE repression in E coli strains. MetE is repressed with the assistance of many other molecules within the methionine pathways, it has also previously been known to be repressed by presence methionine in the growth medium. Studies also have shown that when E coli strains are grown in the presence of B12 vitamin, metE is significantly repressed. The exact pathway of repression of metE through vitamin B12 has not been concluded. This study aimed to determine the role of metF in B12 repression, and MetJ in the repression of metF and metE through B12.  

Using Drosophila to discover mechanisms underlying type 2 diabetes

Pathways involving glucose in Drosophila Melanogaster are similar to mammalian pathways. These similarities make fruit flies a simple and easy model for study. This research shows how fruit flies are an effective model to study the functional genes that are involved in type two diabetes, which is characterized by an insulin deficiency. The pathways in mammals and drosophila have definite differences, but the particular similarities cited by these researchers provided enough evidence to perform a GWAS study. GWAS identified orthologous genes that will help to provide a springboard for looking at genetic risk factors that will hopefully contribute to Diabetes treatment options in the future. It was interesting to read an article that included GWAS. The definition was very helpful in clarifying how we have used it in our lab. This article defined GWA in a helpful way, "that examines the association between large numbers of genetic variants [e.g. single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs)] ...

The interplay between obesity and cancer: a fly view

Drosophila Melanogaster provides a relatively simple model for studying disease mechanisms and the interplay between disease and environment. Around 600 million individuals worldwide have been diagnosed with obesity. Because obesity has been shown to increase risk of cancer by a significant amount, this research aims to use fruit flies as a whole-animal model to better understand the relationship between obesity and cancer. Obesity not only increases an individual’s risk for cancers of the liver, kidneys, thyroid, and colon, it increase the aggressiveness of tumors. This gives this study relevance.

Muscles provide protection during microbial infection by activating innate immune response pathways in Drosophila and zebrafish

 Muscle tissue has been shown to be associated with an immune response, the exact mechanism of this interaction is unknown. This research study shows through both a zebrafish and drosophila model that muscles are indeed implicated in effective immune response. Specifically the drosophila model was created by inactivating IMF’s or the indirect flight muscles of the flies. By rendering these muscles defective it the humoral response of the drosophila’s immune system was lacking. Because IMF’s are similar to both vertebrate muscles and cardiac muscles, this model shows potential application to larger and or human organisms.

Modeling congenital disease and inborn errors of development in Drosophila melanogaster

Drosophila Melanogaster has been used as a model to study congenital disorders, Neurodegenerative disorders, and cancer. As a model fruit flies have great genetic tractability, and biology that is very evolutionary conserved, these qualities allow drosophila to be studied on a larger, and more cost effective scale than larger animals. The big picture of this research rests on the importance of understanding the causality of congenital abnormalities so that therapeutic treatments can be developed. Primarily research uses a forward genetic screen, which uses “random, genome-wide mutagenesis to generate progeny with an aberrant phenotype(s).” The individual genes that have been mutated are then identified, leading to the discovery of genes that play a role in a particular process.  In Drosophila this method involves mutations of the cuticle, which can be studied to understand patterns of development. Creating mutations in the genes that affect the cuticle development has led to disco ...

Human Disease Models in Drosophila melanogaster and the Role of the Fly in Therapeutic Drug Discovery

Drosophila Melanogaster has proven to be a very effective model for understanding the aspects of human disease on a molecular level. This is in part because 75 % of human disease genes have a homologue in the fruit fly. The authors of this article argue that there are several reasons why a drosophila model is more cost effective, and can provide new insights into treatment therapies involving diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and nervous system disorders.

Drosophila melanogaster as a Model Organism of Brain Diseases

Drosophila Melanogaster has been used to model many human diseases, this article describes how it can be used to model various brain diseases. Rodents have often been used to model brain disease. The big picture goal is that through modeling these diseases in fruit flies more insights will be offered, and therapies at the molecular level will have a springboard of development. Some advantages offered through using Drosophila as a disease model instead of other vertebrates is that there is more ease in genetically manipulating a fruit fly, they have shorter lifespans and many offspring, and though anatomically the fly is not similar to the human there are many molecular pathways that are conserved. The obvious disadvantage of this model is that fruit flies lack the vertebrae that other models do, and thus certain pathogenic factors that are vertebrate specific cannot be observed in invertebrates.