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A cell surface protein controls endocrine ring gland morphogenesis and steroid production

Pesch, Yanina-Yasmin, Hesse, Ricarda, Ali, Tariq, Behr, Matthias
Developmental biology 2019 v.445 no.1 pp. 16-28
Drosophila, arthropods, axons, biosynthesis, brain, ecdysone, endocytosis, extracellular matrix, genes, homeostasis, hormonal regulation, humans, insects, morphogenesis, sensory neurons, steroid hormones, surface proteins
Identification of signals for systemic adaption of hormonal regulation would help to understand the crosstalk between cells and environmental cues contributing to growth, metabolic homeostasis and development. Physiological states are controlled by precise pulsatile hormonal release, including endocrine steroids in human and ecdysteroids in insects. We show in Drosophila that regulation of genes that control biosynthesis and signaling of the steroid hormone ecdysone, a central regulator of developmental progress, depends on the extracellular matrix protein Obstructor-A (Obst-A). Ecdysone is produced by the prothoracic gland (PG), where sensory neurons projecting axons from the brain integrate stimuli for endocrine control. By defining the extracellular surface, Obst-A promotes morphogenesis and axonal growth in the PG. This process requires Obst-A-matrix reorganization by Clathrin/Wurst-mediated endocytosis. Our data identifies the extracellular matrix as essential for endocrine ring gland function, which coordinates physiology, axon morphogenesis, and developmental programs. As Obst-A and Wurst homologs are found among all arthropods, we propose that this mechanism is evolutionary conserved.