Adult Drosophila Lack Hematopoiesis but Rely on a Blood Cell Reservoir at the Respiratory Epithelia to Relay Infection Signals to Surrounding Tissues

Dev Cell. 2019 Dec 16;51(6):787-803.e5. doi: 10.1016/j.devcel.2019.10.017. Epub 2019 Nov 14.


The use of adult Drosophila melanogaster as a model for hematopoiesis or organismal immunity has been debated. Addressing this question, we identify an extensive reservoir of blood cells (hemocytes) at the respiratory epithelia (tracheal air sacs) of the thorax and head. Lineage tracing and functional analyses demonstrate that the majority of adult hemocytes are phagocytic macrophages (plasmatocytes) from the embryonic lineage that parallels vertebrate tissue macrophages. Surprisingly, we find no sign of adult hemocyte expansion. Instead, hemocytes play a role in relaying an innate immune response to the blood cell reservoir: through Imd signaling and the Jak/Stat pathway ligand Upd3, hemocytes act as sentinels of bacterial infection, inducing expression of the antimicrobial peptide Drosocin in respiratory epithelia and colocalizing fat body domains. Drosocin expression in turn promotes animal survival after infection. Our work identifies a multi-signal relay of organismal humoral immunity, establishing adult Drosophila as model for inter-organ immunity.

Keywords: Drosocin; Drosophila melanogaster; Jak/Stat; NFκB; Stat92E; antimicrobial peptide; blood cell reservoir; fat body; hematopoiesis; hemocyte; hop; imd; innate immunity; macrophage; respiratory epithelia; tracheal air sacs; upd3.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Cells / metabolism*
  • Drosophila / metabolism
  • Hematopoiesis / physiology*
  • Hemocytes / metabolism
  • Immunity, Cellular / immunology
  • Immunity, Innate / immunology
  • Janus Kinases / metabolism
  • Macrophages / metabolism*
  • Respiratory Mucosa / metabolism*
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism


  • Transcription Factors
  • Janus Kinases