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Genes Dev. 2003 Jan 1;17(1):115-25.

Nitric oxide contributes to induction of innate immune responses to gram-negative bacteria in Drosophila.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, California 94143, USA.


Studies in mammals uncovered important signaling roles of nitric oxide (NO), and contributions to innate immunity. Suggestions of conservation led us to explore the involvement of NO in Drosophila innate immunity. Inhibition of nitric oxide synthase (NOS) increased larval sensitivity to gram-negative bacterial infection, and abrogated induction of the antimicrobial peptide Diptericin. NOS was up-regulated after infection. Antimicrobial peptide reporters revealed that NO triggered an immune response in uninfected larvae. NO induction of Diptericin reporters in the fat body required immune deficiency (imd) and domino. These findings show that NOS activity is required for a robust innate immune response to gram-negative bacteria, NOS is induced by infection, and NO is sufficient to trigger response in the absence of infection. We propose that NO mediates an early step of the signal transduction pathway, inducing the innate immune response upon natural infection with gram-negative bacteria.

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