Biology Open (May 2017)

mTORC1 signalling mediates PI3K-dependent large lipid droplet accumulation in Drosophila ovarian nurse cells

  • Lawrence B. Mensah,
  • Deborah C. I. Goberdhan,
  • Clive Wilson

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 6, no. 5
pp. 563 – 570


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Insulin and insulin-like growth factor signalling (IIS), which is primarily mediated by the PI3-kinase (PI3K)/PTEN/Akt kinase signalling cassette, is a highly evolutionarily conserved pathway involved in co-ordinating growth, development, ageing and nutrient homeostasis with dietary intake. It controls transcriptional regulators, in addition to promoting signalling by mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) complex 1 (mTORC1), which stimulates biosynthesis of proteins and other macromolecules, and drives organismal growth. Previous studies in nutrient-storing germline nurse cells of the Drosophila ovary showed that a cytoplasmic pool of activated phosphorylated Akt (pAkt) controlled by Pten, an antagonist of IIS, cell-autonomously regulates accumulation of large lipid droplets in these cells at late stages of oogenesis. Here, we show that the large lipid droplet phenotype induced by Pten mutation is strongly suppressed when mTor function is removed. Furthermore, nurse cells lacking either Tsc1 or Tsc2, which negatively regulate mTORC1 activity, also accumulate large lipid droplets via a mechanism involving Rheb, the downstream G-protein target of TSC2, which positively regulates mTORC1. We conclude that elevated IIS/mTORC1 signalling is both necessary and sufficient to induce large lipid droplet formation in late-stage nurse cells, suggesting roles for this pathway in aspects of lipid droplet biogenesis, in addition to control of lipid metabolism.