Dietary Lipids Modulate Notch Signaling and Influence Adult Intestinal Development and Metabolism in Drosophila

Rebecca Obniski, Matthew Sieber, Allan C. Spradling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Tissue homeostasis involves a complex balance of developmental signals and environmental cues that dictate stem cell function. We found that dietary lipids control enteroendocrine cell production from Drosophila posterior midgut stem cells. Dietary cholesterol influences new intestinal cell differentiation in an Hr96-dependent manner by altering the level and duration of Notch signaling. Exogenous lipids modulate Delta ligand and Notch extracellular domain stability and alter their trafficking in endosomal vesicles. Lipid-modulated Notch signaling occurs in other nutrient-dependent tissues, suggesting that Delta trafficking in many cells is sensitive to cellular sterol levels. These diet-mediated alterations in young animals contribute to a metabolic program that persists after the diet changes. A low-sterol diet also slows the proliferation of enteroendocrine tumors initiated by Notch pathway disruption. Thus, a specific dietary nutrient can modify a key intercellular signaling pathway to shift stem cell differentiation and cause lasting changes in tissue structure and physiology. Obniski et al. describe a specific mechanism by which dietary nutrients such as cholesterol alter the cellular structure of adult tissues by influencing stem cell outputs. Cholesterol alters cell-cell communication by changing the stability of Notch signaling proteins in intracellular compartments. These diet-mediated effects program metabolism and influence tumor growth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)98-111.e5
JournalDevelopmental cell
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 8 2018


  • Drosophila
  • Notch signaling
  • cholesterol
  • development
  • dietary lipids
  • enteroendocrine cell
  • intestinal tumor
  • metabolic program

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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