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PLoS One. 2009 Jul 29;4(7):e6429. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0006429.

Characterization of a lamellocyte transcriptional enhancer located within the misshapen gene of Drosophila melanogaster.

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Department of Biological Sciences, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana, United States of America.


Drosophila has emerged as an excellent model system in which to study cellular and genetic aspects of hematopoiesis. Under normal developmental conditions and in wild-type genetic backgrounds, Drosophila possesses two types of blood cells, crystal cells and plasmatocytes. Upon infestation by a parasitic wasp or in certain altered genetic backgrounds, a third hemocyte class called the lamellocyte becomes apparent. Herein we describe the characterization of a novel transcriptional regulatory module, a lamellocyte-active enhancer of the misshapen gene. This transcriptional control sequence appears to be inactive in all cell types of the wild-type larva, including crystal cells and plasmatocytes. However, in lamellocytes induced by wasp infestation or by particular genetic conditions, the enhancer is activated and it directs reporter GFP or DsRed expression exclusively in lamellocytes. The lamellocyte control region was delimited to a 140-bp intronic sequence that contains an essential DNA recognition element for the AP-1 transcription factor. Additionally, mutation of the kayak gene encoding the dFos subunit of AP-1 led to a strong suppression of lamellocyte production in tumorous larvae. As misshapen encodes a protein kinase within the Jun N-terminal kinase signaling pathway that functions to form an active AP-1 complex, the lamellocyte-active enhancer likely serves as a transcriptional target within a genetic auto-regulatory circuit that promotes the production of lamellocytes in immune-challenged or genetically-compromised animals.

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