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This article has been peer reviewed and is published in PLoS One 2011, Volume 6, Issue 8, Article number e23343. The published version is available at DOI: 0.1371/journal.pone.0023343. © Public Library of Science


There is ample evidence that ion channel modulation by accessory proteins within a macromolecular complex can regulate channel activity and thereby impact neuronal excitability. However, the downstream consequences of ion channel modulation remain largely undetermined. The Drosophila melanogaster large conductance calcium-activated potassium channel SLOWPOKE (SLO) undergoes modulation via its binding partner SLO-binding protein (SLOB). Regulation of SLO by SLOB influences the voltage dependence of SLO activation and modulates synaptic transmission. SLO and SLOB are expressed especially prominently in median neurosecretory cells (mNSCs) in the pars intercerebralis (PI) region of the brain; these cells also express and secrete Drosophila insulin like peptides (dILPs). Previously, we found that flies lacking SLOB exhibit increased resistance to starvation, and we reasoned that SLOB may regulate aspects of insulin signaling and metabolism. Here we investigate the role of SLOB in metabolism and find that slob null flies exhibit changes in energy storage and insulin pathway signaling. In addition, slob null flies have decreased levels of dilp3 and increased levels of takeout, a gene known to be involved in feeding and metabolism. Targeted expression of SLOB to mNSCs rescues these alterations in gene expression, as well as the metabolic phenotypes. Analysis of fly lines mutant for both slob and slo indicate that the effect of SLOB on metabolism and gene expression is via SLO. We propose that modulation of SLO by SLOB regulates neurotransmission in mNSCs, influencing downstream insulin pathway signaling and metabolism.

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