A team from the Institute for Research in Biomedicine has conducted a study showing that, without food, fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster) have managed worse p53 molecule energy reserves. The study, published in Cell Reports, reinforces the implications in metabolism of this molecule has been associated with tumor suppression. Scientists have found new ways to study the function of this molecule in metabolic disorders such as diabetes and obesity.

Most of the scientific literature on the p53 protein refers to studies of cancer and the functions of this molecule are well established and detailed as a tumor suppressor. Furthermore, even in the biology of cancer, it is known that p53 disables metabolic pathways of tumor cells to stop quickly grow and proliferate.

molecule in the fruit fly

Newer studies about p53 trying to discover their roles in the management of the reserves of energy and nutrients in healthy cells. Recent experiments in cultured cells have shown that p53 is activated when they run out of nutrients, and therefore p53 located in another field of study, the metabolism and cellular health.

At work, the authors show that in the fly Drosophila melanogaster, p53 becomes operational in certain cells to match the metabolic response in the absence of nutrients with an overall effect on the body.

Researchers also reveal the molecular mechanisms by which the activity of this protein is regulated. “The results obtained in Drosophila are useful for studying the molecular mechanisms of p53 in vertebrate models and investigate whether may be involved in diabetes and obesity “, the study says.

Nutrient management

In humans, nutrient management is organized by a coordinated system involved in adipose tissue cells and organs such as the pancreas and liver. When we eat, starts a complex system as the hormones insulin and glucagon are responsible for distributing nutrients to various tissues and accumulate for later use. In Drosophila reservation functions and power management of the cells developed a unique tissue, called fat body.

“With this work we show that Drosophila is useful to understand the adaptive response of an organism to the presence or absence of food and study the systemic response, and help to reveal the molecular mechanisms that activate and work the same in vertebrates. In fact, we can generate diabetic and obese flies to study these metabolic diseases at the molecular level,” says co-author.

Optimize reserves

Scientists have studied the role of p53 in malnourished flies to understand the metabolic response in the body. When no food, only activates p53 in body fat cells, its activity promotes a change in the metabolism of said cells to stop eating sugar and develop new nutrients that supply peripheral tissues.

“P53 is a sensor of the fat body of the fly and acts to use so full energy reserves -Les puts his belt, and makes them act altruistically to supply other” describes Lara Barrio, first author article, and doctoral student Milan. That p53 is key to metabolism revealed by the fact that the flies that eliminate p53 to die faster, he adds.

The team believes that this work with Drosophila will deepen the biology of p53 and functions exercised in metabolism and associated diseases. “It could be especially interesting to analyze vertebrate p53 involvement in diabetes and obesity, and cardiovascular diseases associated with these metabolic disorders,” the authors conclude.