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EMBO J. 2011 Mar 16;30(6):1123-36. doi: 10.1038/emboj.2011.4. Epub 2011 Feb 4.

Drosophila Ras/MAPK signalling regulates innate immune responses in immune and intestinal stem cells.

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German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Division of Signaling and Functional Genomics, Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, University of Heidelberg, Faculty of Medicine Mannheim, Heidelberg, Germany.


Immune signalling pathways need to be tightly regulated as overactivation of these pathways can result in chronic inflammatory diseases and cancer. NF-κB signalling and associated innate immune pathways are crucial in the first line of defense against infection in all animals. In a genome-wide RNAi screen for modulators of Drosophila immune deficiency (IMD)/NF-κB signalling, we identified components of the Ras/MAPK pathway as essential for suppression of IMD pathway activity, even in the absence of an immune challenge. Downregulation of Ras/MAPK activity mimics the induction of innate immune responses by microbial patterns. Conversely, ectopic Ras/MAPK pathway activation results in the suppression of Drosophila IMD/NF-κB signalling. Mechanistically, we show that the Ras/MAPK pathway acts by inducing transcription of the IMD pathway inhibitor Pirk/Rudra/PIMS. Finally, in vivo experiments demonstrate a requirement for Ras/MAPK signalling in restricting innate immune responses in haemocytes, fat body and adult intestinal stem cells. Our observations provide an example of a pathway that promotes cell proliferation and has simultaneously been utilized to limit the immune response.

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