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PLoS Biol. 2006 Jul;4(7):e229.

AgDscam, a hypervariable immunoglobulin domain-containing receptor of the Anopheles gambiae innate immune system.

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W. Harry Feinstone Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.


Activation of the insect innate immune system is dependent on a limited number of pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) capable of interacting with pathogen-associated molecular pattern. Here we report a novel role of an alternatively spliced hypervariable immunoglobulin domain-encoding gene, Dscam, in generating a broad range of PRRs implicated in immune defense in the malaria vector Anopheles gambiae. The mosquito Down syndrome cell adhesion molecule gene, AgDscam, has a complex genome organization with 101 exons that can produce over 31,000 potential alternative splice forms with different combinations of adhesive domains and interaction specificities. AgDscam responds to infection by producing pathogen challenge-specific splice form repertoires. Transient silencing of AgDscam compromises the mosquito's resistance to infections with bacteria and the malaria parasite Plasmodium. AgDscam is mediating phagocytosis of bacteria with which it can associate and defend against in a splice form-specific manner. AgDscam is a hypervariable PRR of the A. gambiae innate immune system.

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