Across phyla, body size is linked to climate. For example, rearing fruit flies at lower temperatures results in bigger body sizes than those observed at higher temperatures. The underlying molecular basis of this effect is poorly understood.
Investigators provide evidence that the temperature-dependent regulation of Drosophila body size depends on a group of cold-sensing neurons and insulin-producing cells (IPCs).
Electrically silencing IPCs completely abolishes the body size increase induced by cold temperature. IPCs are directly innervated by cold-sensing neurons.
Stimulation of these cold-sensing neurons activates IPCs, promotes synthesis and secretion of Drosophila insulin-like peptides and induces a larger body size, mimicking the effects of rearing the flies in cold temperature.
Taken together, these findings reveal a neuronal circuit that mediates the effects of low temperature on fly growth.