A Drosophila Genome-Wide Screen Identifies Regulators of Steroid Hormone Production and Developmental Timing

E. Thomas Danielsen, Morten E. Moeller, Naoki Yamanaka, Qiuxiang Ou, Janne M. Laursen, Caecilie Soenderholm, Ran Zhuo, Brian Phelps, Kevin Tang, Jie Zeng, Shu Kondo, Christian H. Nielsen, Eva B. Harvald, Nils J. Faergeman, Macy J. Haley, Kyle A. O'Connor, Kirst King-Jones, Michael B. O'Connor, Kim F. Rewitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


Steroid hormones control important developmental processes and are linked to many diseases. To systematically identify genes and pathways required for steroid production, we performed a Drosophila genome-wide in vivo RNAi screen and identified 1,906 genes with potential roles in steroidogenesis and developmental timing. Here, we use our screen as a resource to identify mechanisms regulating intracellular levels of cholesterol, a substrate for steroidogenesis. We identify a conserved fatty acid elongase that underlies a mechanism that adjusts cholesterol trafficking and steroidogenesis with nutrition and developmental programs. In addition, we demonstrate the existence of an autophagosomal cholesterol mobilization mechanism and show that activation of this system rescues Niemann-Pick type C1 deficiency that causes a disorder characterized by cholesterol accumulation. These cholesterol-trafficking mechanisms are regulated by TOR and feedback signaling that couples steroidogenesis with growth and ensures proper maturation timing. These results reveal genes regulating steroidogenesis during development that likely modulate disease mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)558-570
Number of pages13
JournalDevelopmental Cell
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 20 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the people who contributed reagents. This work was supported by a Danish Council for Independent Research, Natural Sciences grant (11-105446) and by a Novo Nordisk Foundation grant (10929) to K.F.R. M.B.O., K.A.O., and M.J.H. were supported by NIH grant GM093301 to M.B.O. N.Y. was supported by NIH grants K99/R00 HD073239 from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier Inc.


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