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PLoS One. 2012;7(7):e40714. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0040714. Epub 2012 Jul 12.

Immune response and anti-microbial peptides expression in Malpighian tubules of Drosophila melanogaster is under developmental regulation.

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Cytogenetics Laboratory, Department of Zoology, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, Índia.

Erratum in

  • PLoS One. 2012;7(8). doi: 10.1371/annotation/4b02305d-dcb8-40db-8f1f-1f7f0da51544.


Malpighian tubules (MT) of Drosophila melanogaster are osmoregulatory organs that maintain the ionic balance and remove toxic substances from the body. Additionally they act as autonomous immune sensing organs, which secrete antimicrobial peptides in response to invading microbial pathogens. We show that the antimicrobial peptides (AMP) diptericin, cecropinA, drosocin and attacinA are constitutively expressed and are regulated in developmental stage specific manner. Their developmental expression begins from 3(rd) instar larval stage and an immune challenge increases the expression several folds. Spatial variations in the level of expression along the MT tissue are observed. The mortality of 3(rd) instar larvae fed on bacterial food is much less than that of the earlier larval stages, coinciding with the onset of innate immunity response in MT. Ectopic expression of AMP imparts better resistance to infection while, loss of function of one of the AMP through directed RNAi reduces host survival after immune challenge. The AMP secreted from the MT exhibit bactericidal activity. Expression of the NF-κB transcription factor, Relish, also coincides with activation of immune responsive genes in MT, demonstrating that immune regulation in MT is under developmental control and is governed by the Imd pathway.

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