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Daniela Drummond-Barbosa

Departmental Affiliations

Contact Info

615 N. Wolfe Street, Room W3118

Research Interests

Stem cells; diet; metabolism; obesity; genetics; physiology; reproductive biology; oogenesis; adipocytes; germline; Drosophila
Experiences & Accomplishments
Yale University School of Medicine
Yale University School of Medicine
Nutrient availability has well documented effects on tissue stem cell lineages in a wide range of multicellular organisms; yet, the molecular, cellular and physiological mechanisms underpinning stem cell control by diet, metabolism or hormones in vivo remains largely unexplored. Dr. Drummond-Barbosa pioneered using Drosophila to study adult stem cell regulation by diet. She showed that ovarian stem cells and their descendants proliferate and grow faster on rich relative to poor diets. Her laboratory subsequently played a major role in delineating how insulin-like peptides, ecdysone, and the Target of Rapamycin (TOR) nutrient sensor mediate this response by acting in the ovary. More recently, Dr. Drummond-Barbosa’s research program has been addressing the link between adipocyte physiology and stem cell biology. This question is particularly relevant to the current obesity epidemic and to the poorly understood connection between obesity and cancers. Using a combination of genetic tools that allow us to manipulate gene function exclusively in adipocytes, they showed that amino acid sensing by adult adipocytes has highly specific effects on the GSC lineage in the Drosophila ovary: (1) low amino acid levels trigger the evolutionarily conserved amino acid response pathway through unloaded tRNA-mediated activation of the GCN2 kinase within adipocytes to remotely control GSC numbers in the ovary; and (2) amino acids modulate TOR signaling within adipocytes to modulate the efficiency of oocyte ovulation. In another study, they conducted an isobaric tags for relative and absolute quantification (iTRAQ) proteomic analysis to identify diet-regulated adipocyte metabolic pathways that contribute to the control of the GSC lineage. On a rich (relative to poor) diet, adipocyte Hexokinase-C and metabolic enzymes involved in pyruvate/acetyl-coA production are upregulated, promoting a shift of glucose metabolism towards macromolecule biosynthesis. Adipocyte-specific knockdown shows that these enzymes support early GSC progeny survival. Further, enzymes catalyzing fatty acid oxidation and phosphatidylethanolamine synthesis in adipocytes promote GSC maintenance, whereas lipid and iron transport from adipocytes controls vitellogenesis and GSC number, respectively. These results point to extensive communication between adipocytes and the ovary, and underscore the complexity of the physiological network that modulates stem cell behavior. Ongoing/future efforts of the Drummond-Barbosa research group aim at identifying new systemic mediators of diet, with special emphasis on adipocyte- and neural-derived factors.
Honors & Awards
1988 - First place in college entrance exam for Biological Sciences, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (Brazil)
1990-1991 - Scientific Initiation Fellowship, Conselho Nacional de Pesquisas (Brazil)
1993-1995 - Miles Scholar Award, Bayer Corporation
1997-2000 - National Research Service Award, National Institutes of Health
2006 - Chancellor’s Award for Research, Vanderbilt University
2008 - Semifinalist, 2009 Early Career Scientist Competition, Howard Hughes Medical Institute 
2009 - Invited Plenary Lecture, 50th Annual Drosophila Research Conference, Chicago, IL
2007-2011 - American Cancer Society Research Scholar
2014 - Elected as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
2017 - Shikani/El Hibri Prize for Discovery & Innovation, Johns Hopkins University
Select Publications
Most recent primary research publications:
  • Weaver, L. N., Drummond-Barbosa, D. The nuclear receptor seven up functions in adipocytes and oenocytes to control distinct steps of Drosophila oogenesis. Dev. Biol. Aug 27. pii: S0012-1606(19)30452-X. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2019.08.015. [Epub ahead of print]
  • Weaver, L. N., Drummond-Barbosa, D. Maintenance of proper germline stem cell number requires adipocyte collagen in adult Drosophila females. Genetics 209:1155-1166, 2018.
  • Armstrong, A. R., Drummond-Barbosa, D. Insulin signaling acts in adult adipocytes via GSK-3? and independently of FOXO to control Drosophila female germline stem cell numbers. Dev. Biol. 440:31-39, 2018.
  • Matsuoka, S., Armstrong, A. R., Sampson, L. L., Laws, K. M., Drummond-Barbosa, D. Adipocyte metabolic pathways reprogrammed by diet control the female germline stem cell lineage in Drosophila melanogaster. Genetics 206:953-971, 2017.
  • Hsu, H.-J., Drummond-Barbosa, D. A visual screen for diet-regulated proteins in the Drosophila ovary using GFP protein trap lines. Gene Expression Patterns 23-24:13-21, 2017.