Ecdysone exerts biphasic control of regenerative signaling, coordinating the completion of regeneration with developmental progression

In Drosophila melanogaster, loss of regenerative capacity in wing imaginal discs coincides with an increase in systemic levels of the steroid hormone ecdysone, a key coordinator of their developmental progression. Regenerating discs release the relaxin hormone Dilp8 (Drosophila insulin-like peptide 8) to limit ecdysone synthesis and extend the regenerative period. Here, we describe how regenerating tissues produce a biphasic response to ecdysone levels: lower concentrations of ecdysone promote local and systemic regenerative signaling, whereas higher concentrations suppress regeneration through the expression of broad splice isoforms. Ecdysone also promotes the expression of wingless during both regeneration and normal development through a distinct regulatory pathway. This dual role for ecdysone explains how regeneration can still be completed successfully in dilp8mutant larvae: higher ecdysone levels increase the regenerative activity of tissues, allowing regeneration to reach completion in a shorter time. From these observations, we propose that ecdysone hormone signaling functions to coordinate regeneration with developmental progression.