Fos regulates macrophage infiltration against surrounding tissue resistance by a cortical actin-based mechanism in Drosophila

PLoS Biol. 2022 Jan 6;20(1):e3001494. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.3001494. eCollection 2022 Jan.


The infiltration of immune cells into tissues underlies the establishment of tissue-resident macrophages and responses to infections and tumors. Yet the mechanisms immune cells utilize to negotiate tissue barriers in living organisms are not well understood, and a role for cortical actin has not been examined. Here, we find that the tissue invasion of Drosophila macrophages, also known as plasmatocytes or hemocytes, utilizes enhanced cortical F-actin levels stimulated by the Drosophila member of the fos proto oncogene transcription factor family (Dfos, Kayak). RNA sequencing analysis and live imaging show that Dfos enhances F-actin levels around the entire macrophage surface by increasing mRNA levels of the membrane spanning molecular scaffold tetraspanin TM4SF, and the actin cross-linking filamin Cheerio, which are themselves required for invasion. Both the filamin and the tetraspanin enhance the cortical activity of Rho1 and the formin Diaphanous and thus the assembly of cortical actin, which is a critical function since expressing a dominant active form of Diaphanous can rescue the Dfos macrophage invasion defect. In vivo imaging shows that Dfos enhances the efficiency of the initial phases of macrophage tissue entry. Genetic evidence argues that this Dfos-induced program in macrophages counteracts the constraint produced by the tension of surrounding tissues and buffers the properties of the macrophage nucleus from affecting tissue entry. We thus identify strengthening the cortical actin cytoskeleton through Dfos as a key process allowing efficient forward movement of an immune cell into surrounding tissues.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Actin Cytoskeleton / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Cell Movement
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism
  • Drosophila melanogaster / embryology
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / immunology*
  • Genes, Insect
  • Genes, fos
  • Macrophages / physiology*
  • Sequence Analysis, RNA
  • Tetraspanins
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Tetraspanins
  • Transcription Factors