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Science. 2005 Sep 16;309(5742):1874-8. Epub 2005 Aug 18.

Extensive diversity of Ig-superfamily proteins in the immune system of insects.

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  • 1Department of Cancer Biology, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Department of Neurobiology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.

Abstract

The extensive somatic diversification of immune receptors is a hallmark of higher vertebrates. However, whether molecular diversity contributes to immune protection in invertebrates is unknown. We present evidence that Drosophila immune-competent cells have the potential to express more than 18,000 isoforms of the immunoglobulin (Ig)-superfamily receptor Down syndrome cell adhesion molecule (Dscam). Secreted protein isoforms of Dscam were detected in the hemolymph, and hemocyte-specific loss of Dscam impaired the efficiency of phagocytic uptake of bacteria, possibly due to reduced bacterial binding. Importantly, the molecular diversity of Dscam transcripts generated through a mechanism of alternative splicing is highly conserved across major insect orders, suggesting an unsuspected molecular complexity of the innate immune system of insects.

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PMID:
16109846
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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