A balanced intake of macronutrients—protein, carbohydrate and fat—is essential for the well-being of organisms. An adequate calorific intake but with insufficient protein consumption can lead to several ailments, including kwashiorkor1. Taste receptors (T1R1–T1R3)2 can detect amino acids in the environment, and cellular sensors (Gcn2 and Tor)3 monitor the levels of amino acids in the cell. When deprived of dietary protein, animals select a food source that contains a greater proportion of protein or essential amino acids (EAAs)4. This suggests that food selection is geared towards achieving the target amount of a particular macronutrient with assistance of the EAA-specific hunger-driven response, which is poorly understood. Here we show in Drosophila that a microbiome–gut–brain axis detects a deficit of EAAs and stimulates a compensatory appetite for EAAs. We found that the neuropeptide CNMamide (CNMa)5 was highly induced in enterocytes of the anterior midgut during protein deprivation. Silencing of the CNMa–CNMa receptor axis blocked the EAA-specific hunger-driven response in deprived flies. Furthermore, gnotobiotic flies bearing an EAA-producing symbiotic microbiome exhibited a reduced appetite for EAAs. By contrast, gnotobiotic flies with a mutant microbiome that did not produce leucine or other EAAs showed higher expression of CNMa and a greater compensatory appetite for EAAs. We propose that gut enterocytes sense the levels of diet- and microbiome-derived EAAs and communicate the EAA-deprived condition to the brain through CNMa.
|Number of pages||5|
|State||Published - 27 May 2021|