Uptake of the necrotic serpin in Drosophila melanogaster via the lipophorin receptor-1

PLoS Genet. 2009 Jun;5(6):e1000532. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1000532. Epub 2009 Jun 26.


The humoral response to fungal and Gram-positive infections is regulated by the serpin-family inhibitor, Necrotic. Following immune-challenge, a proteolytic cascade is activated which signals through the Toll receptor. Toll activation results in a range of antibiotic peptides being synthesised in the fat-body and exported to the haemolymph. As with mammalian serpins, Necrotic turnover in Drosophila is rapid. This serpin is synthesised in the fat-body, but its site of degradation has been unclear. By "freezing" endocytosis with a temperature sensitive Dynamin mutation, we demonstrate that Necrotic is removed from the haemolymph in two groups of giant cells: the garland and pericardial athrocytes. Necrotic uptake responds rapidly to infection, being visibly increased after 30 mins and peaking at 6-8 hours. Co-localisation of anti-Nec with anti-AP50, Rab5, and Rab7 antibodies establishes that the serpin is processed through multi-vesicular bodies and delivered to the lysosome, where it co-localises with the ubiquitin-binding protein, HRS. Nec does not co-localise with Rab11, indicating that the serpin is not re-exported from athrocytes. Instead, mutations which block late endosome/lysosome fusion (dor, hk, and car) cause accumulation of Necrotic-positive endosomes, even in the absence of infection. Knockdown of the 6 Drosophila orthologues of the mammalian LDL receptor family with dsRNA identifies LpR1 as an enhancer of the immune response. Uptake of Necrotic from the haemolymph is blocked by a chromosomal deletion of LpR1. In conclusion, we identify the cells and the receptor molecule responsible for the uptake and degradation of the Necrotic serpin in Drosophila melanogaster. The scavenging of serpin/proteinase complexes may be a critical step in the regulation of proteolytic cascades.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport
  • Drosophila Proteins / genetics
  • Drosophila Proteins / immunology
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics
  • Drosophila melanogaster / immunology
  • Drosophila melanogaster / metabolism*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / microbiology
  • Hemolymph / metabolism
  • Lysosomes / metabolism
  • Micrococcus luteus / immunology
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / genetics
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / immunology
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / metabolism*
  • Serine Proteinase Inhibitors / immunology
  • Serine Proteinase Inhibitors / metabolism
  • Serpins / immunology
  • Serpins / metabolism*


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Lpr1 protein, Drosophila
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear
  • Serine Proteinase Inhibitors
  • Serpins
  • lipophorin receptor