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The Genetics and Physiology of Growth and Size Determination

Final Report Summary - GROLEO (The Genetics and Physiology of Growth and Size Determination)

Our research explores the mechanisms that control body growth and uses the fruit fly Drosophila as a model organism. Our ERC advanced grant has allowed remarkable progress in the two research aims we initially proposed, i.e. 1- understanding the links between nutrition and body growth and 2- unravelling the mechanisms coupling organ growth with the program of development. According to our initial aim 1, we used genetic screens to identify new key components of the nutritional response. This led to the identification of new hormonal mechanisms coupling the production and secretion of insulin/IGF hormones with the presence of nutrient during the growth period. These discoveries expand our understanding of the mechanisms linking body growth and nutrition. To address our aim 2, we also made use of unbiased genetic screens to identify a new pathway involved in the coordination of growth and body development. We characterised a relaxin-like hormone called Dilp8 produced in response to abnormal tissue growth that prevents the developmental transition marking the end of the growth period. Interestingly, this hormone is also playing an important role to maintain developmental stability through the fine tuning of organ size. These findings set the basis for new conceptual framework in the field of growth control and organ regeneration.