Autophagy defects lead to the buildup of damaged proteins and organelles, reduced survival during starvation and infections, hypersensitivity to stress and toxic substances, and progressive neurodegeneration. Here we show that, surprisingly, Drosophila mutants lacking the core autophagy gene Atg16 are not only defective in autophagy but also exhibit increased resistance to the sedative effects of ethanol, unlike Atg7 or Atg3 null mutant flies. This mutant phenotype is rescued by the re-expression of Atg16 in Corazonin (Crz)-producing neurosecretory cells that are known to promote the sedation response during ethanol exposure, and RNAi knockdown of Atg16 specifically in these cells also delays the onset of ethanol-induced coma. We find that Atg16 and Crz colocalize within these neurosecretory cells, and both Crz protein and mRNA levels are decreased in Atg16 mutant flies. Thus, Atg16 promotes Crz production to ensure a proper organismal sedation response to ethanol.
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