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In Drosophila, the humoral response characterised by the synthesis of antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) in the fat body (the equivalent of the mammalian liver) and the cellular response mediated by haemocytes (blood cells) engaged in phagocytosis represent two major reactions that counter pathogens. Although considerable analysis has permitted the elucidation of mechanisms pertaining to the two responses individually, the mechanism of their coordination has been unclear. To characterise the signals with which infection might be communicated between blood cells and fat body, we ablated circulating haemocytes and defined the parameters of AMP gene activation in larvae. We found that targeted ablation of blood cells influenced the levels of AMP gene expression in the fat body following both septic injury and oral infection. Expression of the AMP gene drosomycin (a Toll target) was blocked when expression of the Toll ligand Spätzle was knocked down in haemocytes. These results show that in larvae, integration of the two responses in a systemic reaction depend on the production of a cytokine (spz), a process that strongly parallels the mammalian immune response.

Original publication




Journal article


J Cell Sci

Publication Date





4505 - 4515


Animals, Drosophila, Drosophila Proteins, Enterococcus faecalis, Escherichia coli, Fat Body, Hemocytes, Larva, Toll-Like Receptors