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Small noncoding RNAs called microRNAs (miRNAs) have emerged as post-transcriptional regulators of gene expression related to host defenses. Here, we have used Drosophila melanogaster to explore the contribution of individual or clusters of miRNAs in countering systemic Candida albicans infection. From a total of 72 tested, we identify 6 miRNA allelic mutant backgrounds that modulate the survival response to infection and the ability to control pathogen number. These mutants also exhibit dysregulation of the Toll pathway target transcripts Drosomycin (Drs) and Immune-Induced Molecule 1 (IM1). These are characteristics of defects in Toll signaling, and consistent with this, we demonstrate dependency for one of the miRNA mutants on the NF-κΒ homolog Dif. We also quantify changes in the miRNA expression profile over time in response to three pathogen types, and identify 13 mature miRNA forms affected by pathogens that stimulate Toll signaling. To complement this, we provide a genome-wide map of potential NF-κB sites in proximity to miRNA genes. Finally, we demonstrate that systemic C. albicans infection contributes to a reduction in the total amount of branch-chained amino acids, which is miRNA-regulated. Overall, our data reveal a new layer of miRNA complexity regulating the fly response to systemic fungal infection.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





163 - 178


Laboratory of Cell Biology, Development and Genetics, Department of Biochemistry, University of Oxford, OX1 3QU, United Kingdom.


Animals, Drosophila melanogaster, Candida albicans, Candidiasis, DNA-Binding Proteins, Drosophila Proteins, Transcription Factors, MicroRNAs, Signal Transduction, Immunity, Innate