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Methods Enzymol. 2011;499:205-25. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-386471-0.00011-0.

The Drosophila serpins: multiple functions in immunity and morphogenesis.

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UPR 9022 CNRS, IBMC, Université de Strasbourg, 15 Rue Descartes, Strasbourg, France.


Members of the serpin superfamily of proteins have been found in all living organisms, although rarely in bacteria or fungi. They have been extensively studied in mammals, where many rapid physiological responses are regulated by inhibitory serpins. In addition to the inhibitory serpins, a large group of noninhibitory proteins with a conserved serpin fold have also been identified in mammals. These noninhibitory proteins have a wide range of functions, from storage proteins to molecular chaperones, hormone transporters, and tumor suppressors. In contrast, until recently, very little was known about insect serpins in general, or Drosophila serpins in particular. In the last decade, however, there has been an increasing interest in the serpin biology of insects. It is becoming clear that, like in mammals, a similar wide range of physiological responses are regulated in insects and that noninhibitory serpin-fold proteins also play key roles in insect biology. Drosophila is also an important model organism that can be used to study human pathologies (among which serpinopathies or other protein conformational diseases) and mechanisms of regulation of proteolytic cascades in health or to develop strategies for control of insect pests and disease vectors. As most of our knowledge on insect serpins comes from studies on the Drosophila immune response, we survey here the Drosophila serpin literature and describe the laboratory techniques that have been developed to study serpin-regulated responses in this model genetic organism.

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