S Benzer

California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California, United States

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Publications (79)1031.36 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Defects in mitochondrial electron transport chain (ETC) function have been implicated in a number of neurodegenerative disorders, cancer, and aging. Mitochondrial complex I (NADH dehydrogenase) is the largest and most complicated enzyme of the ETC with 45 subunits originating from two separate genomes. The biogenesis of complex I is an intricate process that requires multiple steps, subassemblies, and assembly factors. Here, we report the generation and characterization of a Drosophila model of complex I assembly factor deficiency. We show that CG7598 (dCIA30), the Drosophila homolog of human complex I assembly factor Ndufaf1, is necessary for proper complex I assembly. Reduced expression of dCIA30 results in the loss of the complex I holoenzyme band in blue-native polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and loss of NADH:ubiquinone oxidoreductase activity in isolated mitochondria. The complex I assembly defect, caused by mutation or RNAi of dCIA30, has repercussions both during development and adulthood in Drosophila, including developmental arrest at the pupal stage and reduced stress resistance during adulthood. Expression of the single-subunit yeast alternative NADH dehydrogenase, Ndi1, can partially or wholly rescue phenotypes associated with the complex I assembly defect. Our work shows that CG7598/dCIA30 is a functional homolog of Ndufaf1 and adds to the accumulating evidence that transgenic NDI1 expression is a viable therapy for disorders arising from complex I deficiency.
    PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(11):e50644. · 3.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Total food intake is a function of meal size and meal frequency, and adjustments to these parameters allow animals to maintain a stable energy balance in changing environmental conditions. The physiological mechanisms that regulate meal size have been studied in blowflies but have not been previously examined in Drosophila. Here we show that mutations in the leucokinin neuropeptide (leuc) and leucokinin receptor (lkr) genes cause phenotypes in which Drosophila adults have an increase in meal size and a compensatory reduction in meal frequency. Because mutant flies take larger but fewer meals, their caloric intake is the same as that of wild-type flies. The expression patterns of the leuc and lkr genes identify small groups of brain neurons that regulate this behavior. Leuc-containing presynaptic terminals are found close to Lkr neurons in the brain and ventral ganglia, suggesting that they deliver Leuc peptide to these neurons. Lkr neurons innervate the foregut. Flies in which Leuc or Lkr neurons are ablated have defects identical to those of leucokinin pathway mutants. Our data suggest that the increase in meal size in leuc and lkr mutants is due to a meal termination defect, perhaps arising from impaired communication of gut distension signals to the brain. Leucokinin and the leucokinin receptor are homologous to vertebrate tachykinin and its receptor, and injection of tachykinins reduces food consumption. Our results suggest that the roles of the tachykinin system in regulating food intake might be evolutionarily conserved between insects and vertebrates.
    Current biology: CB 06/2010; 20(11):969-78. · 10.99 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Dietary restriction (DR) is a widely conserved intervention leading to lifespan extension. Despite considerable effort, the mechanisms underlying DR remain poorly understood. In particular, it remains unclear whether DR prolongs life through conserved mechanisms in different species. Here, we show that, in the most common experimental conditions, lifespan extension by DR is abolished by providing Drosophila with ad libitum water, without altering food intake, indicating that DR, as conventionally studied in flies, is fundamentally different from the phenomenon studied in mammals. We characterize an alternative dietary paradigm that elicits robust lifespan extension irrespective of water availability, and thus likely represents a more relevant model for mammalian DR. Our results support the view that protein:carbohydrate ratio is the main dietary determinant of fly lifespan. These findings have broad implications for the study of lifespan and nutrition.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 11/2009; 106(44):18633-7. · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Dietary restriction (DR) extends lifespan in multiple species. To examine the mechanisms of lifespan extension upon DR, we assayed genome-wide translational changes in Drosophila. A number of nuclear encoded mitochondrial genes, including those in Complex I and IV of the electron transport chain, showed increased ribosomal loading and enhanced overall activity upon DR. We found that various mitochondrial genes possessed shorter and less structured 5'UTRs, which were important for their enhanced mRNA translation. The translational repressor 4E-BP, the eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4E binding protein, was upregulated upon DR and mediated DR dependent changes in mitochondrial activity and lifespan extension. Inhibition of individual mitochondrial subunits from Complex I and IV diminished the lifespan extension obtained upon DR, reflecting the importance of enhanced mitochondrial function during DR. Our results imply that translational regulation of nuclear-encoded mitochondrial gene expression by 4E-BP plays an important role in lifespan extension upon DR. For a video summary of this article, see the PaperFlick file with the Supplemental Data available online.
    Cell 10/2009; 139(1):149-60. · 31.96 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Methuselah (Mth) is a G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) associated with longevity in Drosophila melanogaster. Previously, Stunted (Sun) was identified as a peptide agonist of Mth. Here, we identify two additional activators of Mth signaling: Drosophila Sex Peptide (SP) and a novel peptide (Serendipitous Peptide Activator of Mth, SPAM). Minimal functional sequences and key residues were identified from Sun and SPAM by studying truncation and alanine-scanning mutations. These peptide agonists share little sequence homology and illustrate the promiscuity of Mth for activation. mth mutants exhibit no defects in behaviors controlled by SP, casting doubt on the biological significance of Mth activation by any of these agonists, and illustrating the difficulty in applying in vitro studies to their relevance in vivo. Future studies of Mth ligands will help further our understanding of the functional interaction of agonists and GPCRs.
    Protein Science 09/2009; 18(11):2203-8. · 2.74 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In mammals, fat store levels are communicated by leptin and insulin signaling to brain centers that regulate food intake and metabolism. By using transgenic manipulation of neural activity, we report the isolation of two distinct neuronal populations in flies that perform a similar function, the c673a-Gal4 and fruitless-Gal4 neurons. When either of these neuronal groups is silenced, fat store levels increase. This change is mediated through an increase in food intake and altered metabolism in c673a-Gal4-silenced flies, while silencing fruitless-Gal4 neurons alters only metabolism. Hyperactivation of either neuronal group causes depletion of fat stores by increasing metabolic rate and decreasing fatty acid synthesis. Altering the activities of these neurons causes changes in expression of genes known to regulate fat utilization. Our results show that the fly brain measures fat store levels and can induce changes in food intake and metabolism to maintain them within normal limits.
    Neuron 09/2009; 63(3):329-41. · 15.77 Impact Factor
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    Gil B Carvalho, William W Ja, Seymour Benzer
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    ABSTRACT: In Drosophila, genetic techniques relying on stochastic chromosomal rearrangements involve the generation and screening of a large number of fly stocks to isolate a few lines of interest. Here, we describe a PCR-based method allowing non-lethal molecular characterization of single flies. Using this procedure, individual candidate recombinant animals can be genotyped and selected one generation earlier than with extant methodology and, importantly, before stocks are established. This advance should significantly facilitate several of the most fundamental and routine techniques in Drosophila genetics.
    BioTechniques 05/2009; 46(4):312-4. · 2.40 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Metabolic homeostasis in metazoans is regulated by endocrine control of insulin/IGF signaling (IIS) activity. Stress and inflammatory signaling pathways--such as Jun-N-terminal Kinase (JNK) signaling--repress IIS, curtailing anabolic processes to promote stress tolerance and extend lifespan. While this interaction constitutes an adaptive response that allows managing energy resources under stress conditions, excessive JNK activity in adipose tissue of vertebrates has been found to cause insulin resistance, promoting type II diabetes. Thus, the interaction between JNK and IIS has to be tightly regulated to ensure proper metabolic adaptation to environmental challenges. Here, we identify a new regulatory mechanism by which JNK influences metabolism systemically. We show that JNK signaling is required for metabolic homeostasis in flies and that this function is mediated by the Drosophila Lipocalin family member Neural Lazarillo (NLaz), a homologue of vertebrate Apolipoprotein D (ApoD) and Retinol Binding Protein 4 (RBP4). Lipocalins are emerging as central regulators of peripheral insulin sensitivity and have been implicated in metabolic diseases. NLaz is transcriptionally regulated by JNK signaling and is required for JNK-mediated stress and starvation tolerance. Loss of NLaz function reduces stress resistance and lifespan, while its over-expression represses growth, promotes stress tolerance and extends lifespan--phenotypes that are consistent with reduced IIS activity. Accordingly, we find that NLaz represses IIS activity in larvae and adult flies. Our results show that JNK-NLaz signaling antagonizes IIS and is critical for metabolic adaptation of the organism to environmental challenges. The JNK pathway and Lipocalins are structurally and functionally conserved, suggesting that similar interactions represent an evolutionarily conserved system for the control of metabolic homeostasis.
    PLoS Genetics 05/2009; 5(4):e1000460. · 8.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Exposure to sub-lethal levels of stress, or hormesis, was a means to induce longevity. By screening for mutations that enhance resistance to multiple stresses, we identified multiple alleles of alpha-1,2-mannosidase I (mas1) which, in addition to promoting stress resistance, also extended longevity. Longevity enhancement is also observed when mas1 expression is reduced via RNA interference in both Drosophila melanogaster and Caenorhabditis elegans. The screen also identified Edem1 (Edm1), a gene downstream of mas1, as a modulator of lifespan. As double mutants for both mas1 and Edm1 showed no additional longevity enhancement, it appeared that both mutations function within a common pathway to extend lifespan. Molecular analysis of these mutants revealed that the expression of BiP, a putative biomarker of dietary restriction (DR), is down-regulated in response to reductions in mas1 expression. These findings suggested that mutations in mas1 may extend longevity by modulating DR.
    Aging cell 04/2009; 8(4):370-9. · 7.55 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Peptide inhibitors of Methuselah (Mth), a G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR), were reported that can extend the life span of Drosophila melanogaster. Mth is a class B GPCR, which is characterized by a large, N-terminal ectodomain that is often involved with ligand recognition. The crystal structure of the Mth ectodomain, which binds to the peptide inhibitors with high affinity, was previously determined. Here we report the predicted structures for RWR motif peptides in complex with the Mth ectodomain. We studied representatives of both Pro-class and Arg-class RWR motif peptides and identified ectodomain residues Asp139, Phe130, Asp127, and Asp78 as critical in ligand binding. To validate these structures, we predicted the effects of various ligand mutations on the structure and binding to Mth. The binding of five mutant peptides to Mth was characterized experimentally by surface plasmon resonance, revealing measured affinities that are consistent with predictions. The electron density map calculated from our MD structure compares well with the experimental map of a previously determined peptide/Mth crystal structure and could be useful in refining the current low-resolution data. The elucidation of the ligand binding site may be useful in analyzing likely binding sites in other class B GPCRs.
    Biochemistry 12/2008; 47(48):12740-9. · 3.38 Impact Factor
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    Julien Muffat, David W Walker, Seymour Benzer
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    ABSTRACT: Apolipoprotein D (ApoD) expression increases in several neurological disorders and in spinal cord injury. We provide a report of a physiological role for human ApoD (hApoD): Flies overexpressing hApoD are long-lived and protected against stress conditions associated with aging and neurodegeneration, including hyperoxia, dietary paraquat, and heat stress. We show that the fly ortholog, Glial Lazarillo, is strongly up-regulated in response to these extrinsic stresses and also can protect in vitro-cultured cells in situations modeling Alzheimer's disease (AD) and Parkinson's disease (PD). In adult flies, hApoD overexpression reduces age-associated lipid peroxide accumulation, suggesting a proximal mechanism of action. Similar data obtained in the mouse [Ganfornina, M.D., et al., (2008) Apolipoprotein D is involved in the mechanisms regulating protection from oxidative stress. Aging Cell 10.1111/j.1474-9726.2008.00395.] as well as in plants (Charron et al., personal communication) suggest that ApoD and its orthologs play an evolutionarily conserved role in response to stress, possibly managing or preventing lipid peroxidation.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 06/2008; 105(19):7088-93. · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) mediate signaling from extracellular ligands to intracellular signal transduction proteins. Methuselah (Mth) is a class B (secretin-like) GPCR, a family typified by their large, ligand-binding, N-terminal extracellular domains. Downregulation of mth increases the life span of Drosophila melanogaster; inhibitors of Mth signaling should therefore enhance longevity. We used mRNA display selection to identify high-affinity (K(d) = 15 to 30 nM) peptide ligands that bind to the N-terminal ectodomain of Mth. The selected peptides are potent antagonists of Mth signaling, and structural studies suggest that they perturb the interface between the Mth ecto- and transmembrane domains. Flies constitutively expressing a Mth antagonist peptide have a robust life span extension, which suggests that the peptides inhibit Mth signaling in vivo. Our work thus provides new life span-extending ligands for a metazoan and a general approach for the design of modulators of this important class of GPCRs.
    Nature Chemical Biology 08/2007; 3(7):415-9. · 12.95 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Studies of feeding behavior in genetically tractable invertebrate model systems have been limited by the lack of proper methodology. We introduce the Capillary Feeder (CAFE), a method allowing precise, real-time measurement of ingestion by individual or grouped fruit flies on the scale of minutes to days. Using this technique, we conducted the first quantitative analysis of prandial behavior in Drosophila melanogaster. Our results allow the dissection of feeding into discrete bouts of ingestion, defining two separate parameters, meal volume and frequency, that can be uncoupled and thus are likely to be independently regulated. In addition, our long-term measurements show that flies can ingest as much as 1.7x their body mass over 24 h. Besides the study of appetite, the CAFE can be used to monitor oral drug delivery. As an illustration, we used the CAFE to test the effects of dietary supplementation with two compounds, paraquat and ethanol, on food ingestion and preference. Paraquat, a prooxidant widely used in stress tests, had a strong anorexigenic effect. In contrast, in a feeding preference assay, ethanol-laced food, but not ethanol by itself, acted as an attractant.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 06/2007; 104(20):8253-6. · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: How specific sensory stimuli evoke specific behaviors is a fundamental problem in neurobiology. In Drosophila, most odorants elicit attraction or avoidance depending on their concentration, as well as their identity [1]. Such odorants, moreover, typically activate combinations of glomeruli in the antennal lobe of the brain [2-4], complicating the dissection of the circuits translating odor recognition into behavior. Carbon dioxide (CO2), in contrast, elicits avoidance over a wide range of concentrations [5, 6] and activates only a single glomerulus, V [5]. The V glomerulus receives projections from olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) that coexpress two GPCRs, Gr21a and Gr63a, that together comprise a CO2 receptor [7-9]. These CO2-sensitive ORNs, located in the ab1 sensilla of the antenna, are called ab1c neurons [10]. Genetic silencing of ab1c neurons indicates that they are necessary for CO2-avoidance behavior [5]. Whether activation of these neurons alone is sufficient to elicit this behavior, or whether CO2 avoidance requires additional inputs (e.g., from the respiratory system), remains unclear. Here, we show that artificial stimulation of ab1c neurons with light (normally attractive to flies) elicits the avoidance behavior typical of CO2. Thus, avoidance behavior appears hardwired into the olfactory circuitry that detects CO2 in Drosophila.
    Current Biology 06/2007; 17(10):905-8. · 9.49 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Oxidative stress is implicated as a major cause of aging and age-related diseases, such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, as well as ischemia-reperfusion injury in stroke. The mitochondrial electron transport chain is the principal source of reactive oxygen species within cells. Despite considerable medical interest, the molecular mechanisms that regulate reactive oxygen species formation within the mitochondrion remain poorly understood. Here, we report the isolation and characterization of a Drosophila mutant with a defect in subunit b of succinate dehydrogenase (SDH; mitochondrial complex II). The sdhB mutant is hypersensitive to oxygen and displays hallmarks of a progeroid syndrome, including early-onset mortality and age-related behavioral decay. Pathological analysis of the flight muscle, which is amongst the most highly energetic tissues in the animal kingdom, reveals structural abnormalities in the mitochondria. Biochemical analysis shows that, in the mutant, there is a complex II-specific respiratory defect and impaired complex II-mediated electron transport, although the other respiratory complexes remain functionally intact. The complex II defect is associated with an increased level of mitochondrial hydrogen peroxide production, suggesting a possible mechanism for the observed sensitivity to elevated oxygen concentration and the decreased lifespan of the mutant fly.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 11/2006; 103(44):16382-7. · 9.81 Impact Factor
  • Bader Al-Anzi, W Daniel Tracey, Seymour Benzer
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    ABSTRACT: A number of repellent compounds produced by plants elicit a spicy or pungent sensation in mammals . In several cases, this has been found to occur through activation of ion channels in the transient receptor potential (TRP) family . We report that isothiocyanate (ITC), the pungent ingredient of wasabi, is a repellent to the insect Drosophila melanogaster, and that the painless gene, previously known to be required for larval nociception, is required for this avoidance behavior. A painless reporter gene is expressed in gustatory receptor neurons of the labial palpus, tarsus, and wing anterior margin, but not in olfactory receptor neurons, suggesting a gustatory role. Indeed, painless expression overlaps with a variety of gustatory-receptor gene reporters. Some, such as Gr66a, are known to be expressed in neurons that mediate gustatory repulsion . painless mutants are not taste blind; they show normal aversive gustatory behavior with salt and quinine and attractive responses to sugars and capsaicin. The painless gene is an evolutionary homolog of the mammalian "wasabi receptor" TRPA1/ANKTM1 , also thought to be involved in nociception. Our results suggest that the stinging sensation of isothiocyanate is caused by activation of an evolutionarily conserved molecular pathway that is also used for nociception.
    Current Biology 06/2006; 16(10):1034-40. · 9.49 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Increased Apolipoprotein D (ApoD) expression has been reported in various neurological disorders, including Alzheimer's disease, schizophrenia, and stroke, and in the aging brain . However, whether ApoD is toxic or a defense is unknown. In a screen to identify genes that protect Drosophila against acute oxidative stress, we isolated a fly homolog of ApoD, Glial Lazarillo (GLaz). In independent transgenic lines, overexpression of GLaz resulted in increased resistance to hyperoxia (100% O(2)) as well as a 29% extension of lifespan under normoxia. These flies also displayed marked improvements in climbing and walking ability after sublethal exposure to hyperoxia. Overexpression of Glaz also increased resistance to starvation without altering lipid or protein content. To determine whether GLaz might be important in protection against reperfusion injury, we subjected the flies to hypoxia, followed by recovery under normoxia. Overexpression of GLaz was protective against behavioral deficits caused in normal flies by this ischemia/reperfusion paradigm. This and the accompanying paper by Sanchez et al. (in this issue of Current Biology) are the first to manipulate the levels of an ApoD homolog in a model organism. Our data suggest that human ApoD may play a protective role and thus may constitute a therapeutic target to counteract certain neurological diseases.
    Current Biology 05/2006; 16(7):674-9. · 9.49 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Mating elicits a dramatic reprogramming of female behavior in numerous insect species. In Drosophila, this postmating response (PMR) comprises increased egg-laying rate and reduced sexual receptivity and is controlled by the products of the male accessory glands, a family of approximately 80 small peptides transferred in the male seminal fluid . Here, we show that copulation strongly stimulates female food intake. Remarkably, this change is abolished if the males lack a single, small seminal protein, the Sex Peptide (SP). Ectopic expression of SP in virgin females mimics the effect of mating on feeding behavior, demonstrating that SP is the main agent controlling this behavioral paradigm. Our observations identify enhanced feeding behavior as a novel component of the Drosophila PMR and suggest that SP represents a molecular link between energy acquisition and reproductive investment.
    Current Biology 05/2006; 16(7):692-6. · 9.49 Impact Factor
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    Gil B Carvalho, Pankaj Kapahi, Seymour Benzer
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    ABSTRACT: Dietary restriction extends the lifespan of numerous, evolutionarily diverse species. In D. melanogaster, a prominent model for research on the interaction between nutrition and longevity, dietary restriction is typically based on medium dilution, with possible compensatory ingestion commonly being neglected. Possible problems with this approach are revealed by using a method for direct monitoring of D. melanogaster feeding behavior. This demonstrates that dietary restriction elicits robust compensatory changes in food consumption. As a result, the effect of medium dilution is overestimated and, in certain cases, even fully compensated for. Our results strongly indicate that feeding behavior and nutritional composition act concertedly to determine fly lifespan. Feeding behavior thus emerges as a central element in D. melanogaster aging.
    Nature Methods 12/2005; 2(11):813-5. · 23.57 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: All animals exhibit innate behaviours in response to specific sensory stimuli that are likely to result from the activation of developmentally programmed neural circuits. Here we observe that Drosophila exhibit robust avoidance to odours released by stressed flies. Gas chromatography and mass spectrometry identifies one component of this 'Drosophila stress odorant (dSO)' as CO2. CO2 elicits avoidance behaviour, at levels as low as 0.1%. We used two-photon imaging with the Ca2+-sensitive fluorescent protein G-CaMP to map the primary sensory neurons governing avoidance to CO2. CO2 activates only a single glomerulus in the antennal lobe, the V glomerulus; moreover, this glomerulus is not activated by any of 26 other odorants tested. Inhibition of synaptic transmission in sensory neurons that innervate the V glomerulus, using a temperature-sensitive Shibire gene (Shi(ts)), blocks the avoidance response to CO2. Inhibition of synaptic release in the vast majority of other olfactory receptor neurons has no effect on this behaviour. These data demonstrate that the activation of a single population of sensory neurons innervating one glomerulus is responsible for an innate avoidance behaviour in Drosophila.
    Nature 11/2004; 431(7010):854-9. · 38.60 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

7k Citations
1,031.36 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 1983–2012
    • California Institute of Technology
      • Division of Biology
      Pasadena, California, United States
  • 2002
    • Boston Children's Hospital
      Boston, Massachusetts, United States
    • University at Buffalo, The State University of New York
      • Department of Physiology and Biophysics
      Buffalo, NY, United States
  • 1998
    • University of Pennsylvania
      • Department of Biology
      Philadelphia, PA, United States
  • 1997
    • Universität Regensburg
      • Lehrstuhl für Entwicklungs- und Kognitionspsychologie
      Ratisbon, Bavaria, Germany