Effects of Mutation or Deletion

In addition to its function in embryonic development, Drosophila's NF-kappa B/rel-related gene dorsal (dl) is expressed in larval and adult fat body where its RNA expression is enhanced upon injury. Injury also leads to a rapid nuclear translocation of dl from the cytoplasm in fat body cells. The nuclear localization of dl during the immune response is controlled by the Toll signaling pathway, comprising gene products that participate in the intracellular part of the embryonic dorsoventral pathway. In mutants such as Toll or cactus, which exhibit melanotic tumor phenotypes, dl is constitutively nuclear. Together, these results point to a potential link between the Toll signaling pathway and melanotic tumor induction. The melanotic tumor phenotype of Toll and cactus is not dl dependent. These data underline the complexity of the Drosophila immune response (Lemaitre, 1995).

There are a number of different controls on the expression of the antifungal polypeptide gene drosomycin in adults: the receptor Toll, intracellular components of the dorsoventral signaling pathway (Tube, Pelle, and Cactus), and the extracellular Toll ligand, Spätzle, but not the NF-kappaB related transcription factor Dorsal. Mutations in the Toll signaling pathway dramatically reduce survival after fungal infection. In Tl-deficient adults, the cecropin A and, to a lesser extent, attacin, drosomycin and defensin genes are only minimally inducible, in contrast with the diptericin and drosocin genes, which remain fully inducible in this context. The drosomycin gene induction is not affected in mutants deficient in gastrulation defective, snake and easter, all upstream of spätzle in the dorsoventral pathway. The involvement of Spätzle in the drosomycin induction pathway is unexpected, since, in contrast with cat, pll, tub, and Tl, the spz mutant shows no striking zygotic phenotype. The partner of Cact in the drosomycin induction pathway has not yet been identified, but it is probably a member of the Rel family, possibly Dorsal-related immunity factor (Lemaitre, 1996).

hindsight expression in the amnioserosa is regulated by the dorsoventral pathway. Dorsal Hnt protein expression is reduced in genetically ventralized mutant embryos such as those produced by saxophone or cactus females. Reciprocally, dorsal Hnt expression expands ventrally in dorsalized embryos. Anterior midgut expression of Hnt is also affected by the dorsoventral pathway (Yip, 1997).

There are two distinct regulatory pathways controlling the expression of antimicrobial genes, the dorsoventral pathway and the immune deficiency (imd) gene. In contrast to the results with drosomycin, antibacterial genes, cecropin A1, diptericin, drosocin, attacin, and defensin do not give strong constitutive expression in dorsoventral pathway mutants. However, the level of constitutive expression of anti-bacterial genes in dorsoventral pathway mutants is higher than the basal level, and induction of Cecropin A genes is 4-fold lower in dorsoventral pathway mutants. The transcription of cact, dorsal, dif, pll, tub, Tl and spz genes, but not tub, are clearly up-regulated in response to immune challenge. Even though the same components of the dorsoventral pathway that are involved in antifungal response are also involved in antibacterial response, there is an additional requirement for the as yet uncloned imd gene product (Lemaitre, 1996).


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cactus: Biological Overview | Evolutionary Homologs | Regulation | Developmental Biology | Effects of Mutation

date revised: 15 October 2011


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