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PLoS Pathog. 2015 Feb 6;11(2):e1004631. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1004631. eCollection 2015 Feb.

Cytoplasmic actin is an extracellular insect immune factor which is secreted upon immune challenge and mediates phagocytosis and direct killing of bacteria, and is a Plasmodium Antagonist.

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W. Harry Feinstone Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, United States of America.


Actin is a highly versatile, abundant, and conserved protein, with functions in a variety of intracellular processes. Here, we describe a novel role for insect cytoplasmic actin as an extracellular pathogen recognition factor that mediates antibacterial defense. Insect actins are secreted from cells upon immune challenge through an exosome-independent pathway. Anopheles gambiae actin interacts with the extracellular MD2-like immune factor AgMDL1, and binds to the surfaces of bacteria, mediating their phagocytosis and direct killing. Globular and filamentous actins display distinct functions as extracellular immune factors, and mosquito actin is a Plasmodium infection antagonist.

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