Antimicrobial peptides in Drosophila: structures, activities and gene regulation

Chem Immunol Allergy. 2005;86:1-21. doi: 10.1159/000086648.


The production of antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) is an important aspect of host-defence in multicellular organisms. Biochemical analysis of the hemolymph of the fruit-fly Drosophila melanogaster and other Diptera has led to the discovery of eight classes of AMPs. These peptides can be grouped into three families based on their main biological targets, gram-positive bacteria (defensin), gram-negative bacteria (cecropins, drosocin, attacins, diptericin, MPAC), or fungi (drosomycin, metchnikowin). Drosophila AMPs are synthesized by the fat body in response to infection, and secreted into the blood. Most of them can also be induced in surface epithelia in a tissue-specific manner. Finally, some of them are constitutively expressed in defined tissues, such as the salivary glands or the reproductive tract. We review here the structures and activities of these AMPs, as well as the signalling cascades, which lead to their induction upon detection of infectious non-self.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides / chemistry
  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides / genetics*
  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides / metabolism*
  • Defensins / chemistry
  • Defensins / genetics
  • Defensins / metabolism
  • Drosophila Proteins / chemistry
  • Drosophila Proteins / genetics*
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / immunology
  • Drosophila melanogaster / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Genes, Insect
  • Glycopeptides / chemistry
  • Glycopeptides / genetics
  • Glycopeptides / metabolism
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Insect Proteins / chemistry
  • Insect Proteins / genetics
  • Insect Proteins / metabolism
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Molecular Structure
  • Signal Transduction


  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides
  • Defensins
  • DptA protein, Drosophila
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Glycopeptides
  • Insect Proteins
  • attacin antibacterial protein, insect
  • drosocin
  • DRS protein, Drosophila
  • Mtk protein, Drosophila
  • cecropin A