Worldwide epidemiologic studies have repeatedly demonstrated an association between prenatal nutritional environment, birth weight and susceptibility to adult diseases including obesity, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Despite advances in mammalian model systems, the molecular mechanisms underlying this phenomenon are unclear, but might involve programming mechanisms such as epigenetics. Here we describe a new system for evaluating metabolic programming mechanisms using a simple, genetically tractable Drosophila model. We examined the effect of maternal caloric excess on offspring and found that a high-sugar maternal diet alters body composition of larval offspring for at least two generations, augments an obese-like phenotype under suboptimal (high-calorie) feeding conditions in adult offspring, and modifies expression of metabolic genes. Our data indicate that nutritional programming mechanisms could be highly conserved and support the use of Drosophila as a model for evaluating the underlying genetic and epigenetic contributions to this phenomenon.
- Received January 25, 2013.
- Accepted April 24, 2013.
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