Evolution and integration of innate immune systems from fruit flies to man: lessons and questions

J Endotoxin Res. 2005;11(4):243-8. doi: 10.1179/096805105X37411.


Despite broad differences in morphology, ecology and behavior, the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster and humans show a remarkably high degree of conservation for many molecular, cellular, and developmental aspects of their biology. During the last decade, similarities have also been discovered in some of the mechanisms regulating their innate immune system. These parallels regard mainly the Toll-like receptor family and the intracellular signaling pathways involved in the control of the immune response. However, if the overall similarities are important, the detailed pathogen recognition mechanisms differ significantly between fly and humans, highlighting a complicated evolutionary history of the metazoan innate defenses. In this review, we will discuss the main similarities and differences between the two types of organisms. We hope that this current knowledge will be used as a starting point for a more comprehensive view of innate immunity within the broad variety of metazoan phyla.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Drosophila / immunology*
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate / genetics
  • Immunity, Innate / immunology*
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / genetics
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / immunology
  • Models, Immunological
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / genetics
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / immunology
  • Signal Transduction / genetics
  • Signal Transduction / immunology*
  • Toll-Like Receptor 5
  • Toll-Like Receptors


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • Toll-Like Receptor 5
  • Toll-Like Receptors
  • tehao protein, Drosophila