(ORDO NEWS) — Japanese biologists have found that under conditions of nutrient deficiency, fruit fly neurons responsible for perceiving noxious stimuli and activating avoidance behavior grow more branched and complex, but become less sensitive to stimuli.
Apparently, this mechanism optimizes the processes of finding food and avoiding environmental threats.
Nutrients are essential for the life of any organism. It is known that the development of the nervous system, including the growth of dendrites and axons, requires energy-consuming metabolic processes.
However, little is known about how certain nutrients affect neuronal development. Now scientists from Kyoto University (Japan) have investigated the regulatory mechanisms of nutrient-dependent neuronal development.
The model was Drosophila fruit flies and their C4da neurons. These nerve cells of insect larvae are located between the epidermis and the muscles of the body wall.
They perceive dangerous thermal, mechanical and light stimuli and transmit information about them to the central nervous system, which, in turn, activates avoidance behavior.
During experiments, scientists found that a poor, low-nutrient diet causes active growth and complex branching of C4da dendrites.
Moreover, this process does not depend on low concentrations of amino acids, but on the simultaneous lack of vitamins, metal ions and cholesterol.
In the experiments, scientists used the knockdown method – the suppression of certain genes. Thus, they were able to identify this inter-organ signaling that regulates the phenotype of branched neurons.
It turned out that a deficiency of vitamins and ions increases the production of signaling molecules by the muscles of the body walls, which activate the Akt protein inside neurons, which contributes to the complex branching of dendrites.
Although this overgrowth of C4da neurons, despite a nutrient-poor environment, is already counterintuitive, scientists are even more intrigued by the fact that these cells become less sensitive to dangerous light stimuli.
According to the authors of the work, this development of somatosensory neurons, dependent on nutrients, plays a role in optimizing the trade-off between food search and avoidance of environmental threats.
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