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Cell Immunol. 2006 Mar;240(1):5-13. Epub 2006 Jul 18.

DNase II deficiency impairs innate immune function in Drosophila.

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Department of Biological Sciences, The University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX 79968-0519, USA.


DNase II enzymes are highly conserved proteins that are required for the degradation of DNA within phagolysosomes. Engulfment of apoptotic cells and/or bacteria by phagocytic cells requires the function of DNase II to completely destroy ingested DNA. Mutation of the dnase II gene results in an increase of undegraded apoptotic DNA within phagocytic cells in mice and nematodes. Additionally, reduction of DNase II enzymatic activity in Drosophila melanogaster has been shown to lead to increased accumulation of DNA in the ovaries. Due to the importance of DNA clearance during infection, we hypothesized that a severe reduction of DNase II activity would result in diminished immune function and viability. To test this hypothesis, we knocked down DNase II activity in flies using RNAi. As expected, expression of a dnase II-RNAi construct in flies resulted in a dramatic reduction of DNase II activity and a significant decrease in total hemocyte numbers. Furthermore, infection of dnase II-RNAi flies with Gram negative or positive bacteria resulted in a severe reduction in fly viability. These results confirm that DNase II and the ability to clear macromolecular DNA is essential for maintaining proper immune function in Drosophila.

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