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A balanced diet of macronutrients is critical for animal health. A lack of specific elements can have profound effects on behavior, reproduction, and lifespan. Here, we used Drosophila to understand how the brain responds to carbohydrate deprivation. We found that serine protease homologs (SPHs) are enriched among genes that are transcriptionally regulated in flies deprived of carbohydrates. Stimulation of neurons expressing one of these SPHs, Scarface (Scaf), or overexpression of scaf positively regulates feeding on nutritious sugars, whereas inhibition of these neurons or knockdown of scaf reduces feeding. This modulation of food intake occurs only in sated flies while hunger-induced feeding is unaffected. Furthermore, scaf expression correlates with the presence of sugar in the food. As Scaf and Scaf neurons promote feeding independent of the hunger state, and the levels of scaf are positively regulated by the presence of sugar, we conclude that scaf mediates the hedonic control of feeding.

Original publication




Journal article


Cell Rep

Publication Date





3194 - 3206.e4


Drosophila, Scarface, carbohydrates, feeding behavior, hedonic control, macronutrient