Identification and functional analysis of antifungal immune response genes in Drosophila

PLoS Pathog. 2008 Oct 3;4(10):e1000168. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1000168.


Essential aspects of the innate immune response to microbial infection appear to be conserved between insects and mammals. Although signaling pathways that activate NF-kappaB during innate immune responses to various microorganisms have been studied in detail, regulatory mechanisms that control other immune responses to fungal infection require further investigation. To identify new Drosophila genes involved in antifungal immune responses, we selected genes known to be differentially regulated in SL2 cells by microbial cell wall components and tested their roles in antifungal defense using mutant flies. From 130 mutant lines, sixteen mutants exhibited increased sensitivity to fungal infection. Examination of their effects on defense against various types of bacteria and fungi revealed nine genes that are involved specifically in defense against fungal infection. All of these mutants displayed defects in phagocytosis or activation of antimicrobial peptide genes following infection. In some mutants, these immune deficiencies were attributed to defects in hemocyte development and differentiation, while other mutants showed specific defects in immune signaling required for humoral or cellular immune responses. Our results identify a new class of genes involved in antifungal immune responses in Drosophila.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation / genetics
  • Cell Differentiation / immunology
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Wall / genetics
  • Cell Wall / immunology
  • Drosophila Proteins / genetics*
  • Drosophila Proteins / immunology
  • Drosophila melanogaster
  • Genes, Insect* / immunology
  • Hemocytes / immunology
  • Immunity, Innate / genetics*
  • Mutation
  • Mycoses / genetics*
  • Mycoses / immunology
  • NF-kappa B / genetics
  • NF-kappa B / immunology
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism
  • Phagocytosis / genetics*
  • Phagocytosis / immunology
  • Signal Transduction / genetics*
  • Signal Transduction / immunology


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • NF-kappa B