Drosophila serpin 27A is a likely target for immune suppression of the blood cell-mediated melanotic encapsulation response

J Insect Physiol. 2005 Feb;51(2):197-205. doi: 10.1016/j.jinsphys.2004.10.013.


Avirulent strains of the endoparasitoid Leptopilina boulardi succumb to a blood cell-mediated melanotic encapsulation response in host larvae of Drosophila melanogaster. Virulent wasp strains effectively abrogate the cellular response with substances introduced into the host that specifically target and effectively suppress one or more immune signaling pathways, including elements that control phenoloxidase-mediated melanotic encapsulation. The present study implicates involvement of the Drosophila Toll pathway in cellular innate immunity by regulating the serine protease inhibitor Serpin 27A (Spn27A), which normally functions as a negative regulator of phenoloxidase. The introduction of Spn27A into normally highly immune competent D. melanogaster larvae significantly reduced their ability to form melanotic capsules around eggs of L. boulardi. This study confirms the role of Spn27A in the melanization cascade and establishes that this pathway and associated blood cell responses can be activated by parasitization. The activation of phenoloxidase and the site-specific localization of the ensuing melanotic response are such critical components of the blood cell response that Spn27A and the signaling elements mediating its activity are likely to represent prime targets for immune suppression by L. boulardi.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Cell Count
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism*
  • Drosophila Proteins / pharmacology
  • Drosophila melanogaster / immunology
  • Drosophila melanogaster / parasitology*
  • Female
  • Hemocytes / immunology*
  • Immune Tolerance / drug effects
  • Immune Tolerance / immunology*
  • Immunity, Innate / drug effects*
  • Immunity, Innate / immunology
  • Lymphatic System / immunology
  • Melanins / chemistry
  • Melanins / metabolism
  • Monophenol Monooxygenase / metabolism
  • Ovum / cytology
  • Ovum / metabolism
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Serpins / metabolism*
  • Serpins / pharmacology
  • Signal Transduction / immunology
  • Wasps / metabolism*


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Melanins
  • Serpins
  • Spn27A protein, Drosophila
  • eumelanin
  • Monophenol Monooxygenase