Greg S.B. Suh

Associate Professor, Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine, Molecular Neurobiology. Department of Cell Biology

Ph.D., 2001 University of California, Los Angeles

Suh Lab
Innate Behavior, Feeding, Internal Sensory Neuron, Nutritive Sugar, Obesity

Contact Information

Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine
540 First Avenue 5th floor, Lab 13
New York, N.Y. 10016
Office Tel: (212) 263-3024
Lab Tel: (212) 263-5975
Fax: (212) 263-8214

Admin Contact

Richard Stout
Tel: (212) 263-6282

Taste-independent Sugar Sensor in the Brain

Sugar in the natural environment can be detected through taste-independent and taste-dependent modalities. Taste-independent modalities consist mainly of peripheral chemosensory neurons such as sweet taste receptors, which primarily detect the orosensory value of sugar (i.e. sweetness). My laboratory has shown that there exist taste-independent, internal sensors that detect the nutritional value of sugar in Drosophila and mammals. However, the identity of the post-ingestive sugar sensor has not been clearly understood. We recently found that six neurons in the fly brain that produce diuretic hormone (Dh44), a homologue of the mammalian corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), directly detect the nutritional value of sugar. We showed that DH44 neurons are both necessary and sufficient for selecting nutritive sugars in the two-choice assay and are activated by nutritive D-glucose, but not by nonnutritive L-glucose in calcium imaging experiment. Furthermore, we made a surprising observation that artificial activation of DH44 pathway resulted in rapid extensions of the mouthpart, and frequent episodes of excretion. These actions would facilitate the ingestion and digestion of nutritive foods. We propose that activation of DH44 pathway leads to a rapid increase of ingestion and digestion through a positive feedback loop to continue consumption of nutritive foods. Identification and characterization of the taste-independent sugar sensor in Drosophila would provide a framework to understand how appetite is regulated by energy needs in normal and eating disorder patients. Given its strong sequence homology, CRH and its neurons in the hypothalamus may offer similar functions in mammals.

Selected Publications: 
  • Dus M., Lai J., Gunapala K., Gunapala KM, Taylor TD, Hergarden AC, Geraud E., Suh Greg S. (2015). Nutrient Sensor in the Brain directs the action of the Brain-Gut Axis in Drosophila.  Neuron 87, 139-151. PMID: 26074004
  • Ai M., Mills H., Kanai M., Lai J, Deng J, Schreiter ER, Looger LL, Neubert T., Suh, Greg S. (2015) Green-to-Red Photoconversion of GCaMP. Plos One 10(9):e0138127. PMID: 26382605
  • Dus M, Ai M, Suh GS. Taste-independent nutrient selection is mediated by a brain-specific NA(+)/solute co-transporter in Drosophila. Nature Neuroscience. 2013 May; 16(5):526-8. PMID: 23542692
  • Min S, Ai M, Shin SA, Suh GS. Dedicated olfactory neurons mediating attraction behavior to ammonia and amines in Drosophila. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 Apr 2;110(14):E1321-9.  PMID: 23509267
  • Ai M., Min S., Grosjean Y., LeBlanc C., Bell R., Benton R., Suh G.S. (2010). Acid Sensing by the Drosophila Olfactory system. Nature 468: 691-5. PMID: 21085119

Click here to see all publications for Dr. Suh