The metazoan gut performs multiple physiological functions, including digestion and absorption of nutrients, and also serves as a physical and chemical barrier against ingested pathogens and abrasive particles. Maintenance of these functions and structures is partly controlled by the nervous system, yet the precise roles and mechanisms of the neural control of gut integrity remain to be clarified in Drosophila. Here, we screened for GAL4 enhancer-trap strains and labeled a specific subsets of neurons, using Kir2.1 to inhibit their activity. We identified an NP3253 line that is susceptible to oral infection by Gram-negative bacteria. The subset of neurons driven by the NP3253 line includes some of the enteric neurons innervating the anterior midgut, and these flies have a disorganized proventricular structure with high permeability of the peritrophic matrix and epithelial barrier. The findings of the present study indicate that neural control is crucial for maintaining the barrier function of the gut, and provide a route for genetic dissection of the complex brain–gut axis in adults of the model organism Drosophila.
The authors declare no competing or financial interests.
H.K. performed many of the experiments in this study with input from M.O., T.K. and S.K. H.I. performed screening for enhancer trap lines. M.O. took the picture of the brain-gut neurons. All authors analyzed the data. H.K. and T.K. wrote the draft, and all authors finalized the manuscript.
This work was supported by grants from the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST); the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology of Japan (MEXT); the Kao Foundation for Arts and Sciences; the Uehara Memorial Foundation; and the Futaba Electronics Memorial Foundation.
Supplementary information available online at http://jeb.biologists.org/lookup/doi/10.1242/jeb.122960.supplemental
- Received March 31, 2015.
- Accepted May 18, 2016.
- © 2016. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd