Under conditions of stress, many animals suffer from epithelial barrier disruption that can cause molecules to leak down their concentration gradients, potentially causing a loss of organismal homeostasis, further injury or death. Drosophila is a common insect model, used to study barrier disruption related to aging, traumatic injury, or environmental stress. Net leak of a non-toxic dye (Brilliant blue FCF) from the gut lumen to the hemolymph is often used to identify barrier failure under these conditions, but Drosophila are capable of actively transporting structurally-similar compounds. Here, we examined whether cold stress (like other stresses) causes Brilliant blue FCF (BB-FCF) to appear in the hemolymph of flies fed the dye, and if so whether Drosophila are capable of clearing this dye from their body following chilling. Using in situ midgut leak and transport assays as well as Ramsay assays of Malpighian tubule transport, we tested whether these ionoregulatory epithelia can actively transport BB-FCF. In doing so, we found that the Drosophila midgut and Malpighian tubules can mobilize BB-FCF via an active transcellular pathway, suggesting that elevated concentrations of the dye in the hemolymph may occur from increased paracellular permeability, reduced transcellular clearance, or both. Summary statement: Drosophila are able to actively secrete Brilliant blue FCF, a commonly used marker of barrier dysfunction.

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Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology - A Molecular and Integrative Physiology
Department of Biology

Livingston, D.B.H. (Dawson B.H.), Patel, H. (Hirva), Donini, A. (Andrew), & MacMillan, H.A. (2020). Active transport of brilliant blue FCF across the Drosophila midgut and Malpighian tubule epithelia. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology - A Molecular and Integrative Physiology, 239. doi:10.1016/j.cbpa.2019.110588