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Exp Hematol. 2014 Aug;42(8):717-27. doi: 10.1016/j.exphem.2014.06.002. Epub 2014 Jun 17.

Drosophila as a model for the two myeloid blood cell systems in vertebrates.

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Department of Cell and Tissue Biology.
Department of Cell and Tissue Biology; Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regeneration Medicine and Stem Cell Research; Cardiovascular Research Institute, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA. Electronic address:


Fish, mice, and humans rely on two coexisting myeloid blood cell systems. One is sustained by hematopoietic progenitor cells, which reside in specialized microenvironments (niches) in hematopoietic organs and give rise to cells of the monocyte lineage. The other system corresponds to the independent lineage of self-renewing tissue macrophages, which colonize organs during embryonic development and are maintained during later life by proliferation in local tissue microenvironments. However, little is known about the nature of these microenvironments and their regulation. Moreover, many vertebrate tissues contain a mix of both tissue-resident and monocyte-derived macrophages, posing a challenge to the study of lineage-specific regulatory mechanisms and function. This review highlights how research in the simple model organism Drosophila melanogaster can address many of these outstanding questions in the field. Drawing parallels between hematopoiesis in Drosophila and vertebrates, we illustrate the evolutionary conservation of the two myeloid systems across animal phyla. Much like vertebrates, Drosophila possesses a lineage of self-renewing tissue-resident macrophages, which we refer to as tissue hemocytes, as well as a "definitive" lineage of macrophages that derive from hematopoiesis in the progenitor-based lymph gland. We summarize key findings from Drosophila hematopoiesis that illustrate how local microenvironments, systemic signals, immune challenges, and nervous inputs regulate adaptive responses of tissue-resident macrophages and progenitor-based hematopoiesis to maximize fitness of the animal.

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