RNA Interference Directed against the Transglutaminase Gene Triggers Dysbiosis of Gut Microbiota in Drosophila

J Biol Chem. 2016 Nov 25;291(48):25077-25087. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M116.761791. Epub 2016 Oct 19.


We recently reported that transglutaminase (TG) suppresses immune deficiency pathway-controlled antimicrobial peptides (IMD-AMPs), thereby conferring immune tolerance to gut microbes, and that RNAi of the TG gene in flies decreases the lifespan compared with non-TG-RNAi flies. Here, analysis of the bacterial composition of the Drosophila gut by next-generation sequencing revealed that gut microbiota comprising one dominant genus of Acetobacter in non-TG-RNAi flies was shifted to that comprising two dominant genera of Acetobacter and Providencia in TG-RNAi flies. Four bacterial strains, including Acetobacter persici SK1 and Acetobacter indonesiensis SK2, Lactobacillus pentosus SK3, and Providencia rettgeri SK4, were isolated from the midgut of TG-RNAi flies. SK1 exhibited the highest resistance to the IMD-AMPs Cecropin A1 and Diptericin among the isolated bacteria. In contrast, SK4 exhibited considerably lower resistance against Cecropin A1, whereas SK4 exhibited high resistance to hypochlorous acid. The resistance of strains SK1-4 against IMD-AMPs in in vitro assays could not explain the shift of the microbiota in the gut of TG-RNAi flies. The lifespan was reduced in gnotobiotic flies that ingested both SK4 and SK1, concomitant with the production of reactive oxygen species and apoptosis in the midgut, whereas the survival rate was not altered in gnotobiotic flies that mono-ingested either SK4 or SK1. Interestingly, significant amounts of reactive oxygen species were detected in the midgut of gnotobiotic flies that ingested SK4 and SK2, concomitant with no significant apoptosis in the midgut. In gnotobiotic flies that co-ingested SK4 and SK1, an additional unknown factor(s) may be required to cause midgut apoptosis.

Keywords: Drosophila; RNA interference (RNAi); antimicrobial peptide (AMP); dysbiosis; gnotobiotic fly; microbiota; reactive oxygen species (ROS); transglutaminase.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacteria / enzymology*
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Drosophila melanogaster
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Intestines / enzymology
  • Intestines / microbiology
  • RNA Interference*
  • Transglutaminases / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Transglutaminases / genetics
  • Transglutaminases / metabolism*


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Transglutaminases