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Thirst emerges from a range of cellular changes that ultimately motivate an animal to consume water. Although thirst-responsive neuronal signals have been reported, the full complement of brain responses is unclear. Here, we identify molecular and cellular adaptations in the brain using single-cell sequencing of water-deprived Drosophila. Water deficiency primarily altered the glial transcriptome. Screening the regulated genes revealed astrocytic expression of the astray-encoded phosphoserine phosphatase to bi-directionally regulate water consumption. Astray synthesizes the gliotransmitter D-serine, and vesicular release from astrocytes is required for drinking. Moreover, dietary D-serine rescues aay-dependent drinking deficits while facilitating water consumption and expression of water-seeking memory. D-serine action requires binding to neuronal NMDA-type glutamate receptors. Fly astrocytes contribute processes to tripartite synapses, and the proportion of astrocytes that are themselves activated by glutamate increases with water deprivation. We propose that thirst elevates astrocytic D-serine release, which awakens quiescent glutamatergic circuits to enhance water procurement.

Original publication




Journal article


Curr Biol

Publication Date





3952 - 3970.e8


D-serine, Drosophila, NMDA receptors, astrocytes, behavior, glia, gliotransmission, single-cell transcriptomics, thirst, water procurement, Animals, Astrocytes, Drosophila, Glutamic Acid, N-Methylaspartate, Receptors, Glutamate, Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate, Serine, Synaptic Transmission, Thirst, Water