Molecular population genetics of Drosophila immune system genes

Genetics. 1997 Oct;147(2):713-24.


A striking aspect of many vertebrate immune system is the exceptionally high level of polymorphism they harbor. A convincing case can be made that this polymorphism is driven by the diversity of pathogens that face selective pressures to evade attack by the host immune system. Different organisms accomplish a defense against diverse pathogens through mechanisms that differ widely in their requirements for specific recognition. It has recently been shown that innate defense mechanisms, which use proteins with broad-spectrum bactericidal properties, are common to both primitive and advanced organisms. In this study we characterize DNA sequence variation in six pathogen defense genes of Drosophila melanogaster and D. mauritiana, including Andropin; cecropin genes CecA1, CecA2, CecB, and CecC; and Diptericin. The necessity for protection against diverse pathogens, which themselves may evolve resistance to insect defenses, motivates a population-level analysis. Estimates of variation levels show that the genes are not exceptionally polymorphic, but Andropin and Diptericin have patterns of variation that differ significantly from neutrality. Patterns of interpopulation and interspecific differentiation also reveal differences among the genes in evolutionary forces.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Infective Agents*
  • Base Sequence
  • DNA, Complementary
  • Drosophila / genetics
  • Drosophila / immunology*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Multigene Family
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Polymorphism, Genetic*
  • Sequence Homology, Nucleic Acid
  • Species Specificity


  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • DNA, Complementary

Associated data

  • GENBANK/AF018964
  • GENBANK/AF018965
  • GENBANK/AF018966
  • GENBANK/AF018967
  • GENBANK/AF018968
  • GENBANK/AF018969
  • GENBANK/AF018970
  • GENBANK/AF018971
  • GENBANK/AF018972
  • GENBANK/AF018973
  • GENBANK/AF018974
  • GENBANK/AF018975
  • GENBANK/AF018985
  • GENBANK/AF018986
  • GENBANK/AF018987
  • GENBANK/AF018988
  • GENBANK/AF018989
  • GENBANK/AF018990
  • GENBANK/AF018991
  • GENBANK/AF018992
  • GENBANK/AF018993
  • GENBANK/AF018994
  • GENBANK/AF018995
  • GENBANK/AF018996
  • GENBANK/AF018997
  • GENBANK/AF018998
  • GENBANK/AF018999