The host defence of insects includes a combination of cellular and humoral responses. The cellular arm of the insect innate immune system includes mechanisms that are directly mediated by haemocytes (e.g., phagocytosis, nodulation and encapsulation). In addition, melanization accompanying coagulation, clot formation and wound healing, nodulation and encapsulation processes leads to the formation of cytotoxic redox‐cycling melanin precursors and reactive oxygen and nitrogen species. However, demarcation between cellular and humoral immune reactions as two distinct categories is not straightforward. This is because many humoral factors affect haemocyte functions and haemocytes themselves are an important source of many humoral molecules. There is also a considerable overlap between cellular and humoral immune functions that span from recognition of foreign intruders to clot formation. Here, we review these immune reactions starting with the cellular mechanisms that limit haemolymph loss and participate in wound healing and clot formation and advancing to cellular functions that are critical in restricting pathogen movement and replication. This information is important because it highlights that insect cellular immunity is controlled by a multilayered system, different components of which are activated by different pathogens or during the different stages of the infection.
Insects possess an immune system that protects them from attacks by various pathogenic microorganisms that would otherwise threaten their survival. Immune mechanisms may deal directly with the pathogens by eliminating them from the host organism or disarm them by suppressing the synthesis of toxins and virulence factors that promote the invasion and destructive action of the intruder within the host. Insects have been established as outstanding models for studying immune system regulation because innate immunity can be explored as an integrated system at the level of the whole organism. Innate immunity in insects consists of basal immunity that controls the constitutive synthesis of effector molecules such as antimicrobial peptides, and inducible immunity that is activated after detection of a microbe or its product(s). Activation and coordination of innate immune defenses in insects involve evolutionary conserved immune factors. Previous research in insects has led to the identification and characterization of distinct immune signalling pathways that modulate the response to microbial infections. This work has not only advanced the field of insect immunology, but it has also rekindled interest in the innate immune system of mammals. Here we review the current knowledge on key molecular components of insect immunity and discuss the opportunities they present for confronting infectious diseases in humans.
Immune priming in insects involves an initial challenge with a non-pathogenic microbe or exposure to a low dose of pathogenic microorganisms, which provides a certain degree of protection against a subsequent pathogenic infection. The protective effect of insect immune priming has been linked to the activation of humoral or cellular features of the innate immune response during the preliminary challenge, and these effects might last long enough to promote the survival of the infected animal. The fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster is a superb model to dissect immune priming processes in insects due to the availability of molecular and genetic tools, and the comprehensive understanding of the innate immune response in this organism. Previous investigations have indicated that the D. melanogaster immune system can be primed efficiently. Here we have extended these studies by examining the result of immune priming against two potent entomopathogenic bacteria, Photorhabdus luminescens and P. asymbiotica. We have found that rearing D. melanogaster on diet containing a non-pathogenic strain of Escherichia coli alone or in combination with Micrococcus luteus upregulates the antibacterial peptide immune response in young adult flies, but it does not prolong fly life span. Also, subsequent intrathoracic injection with P. luminescens or P. asymbiotica triggers the Immune deficiency and Toll signaling pathways in flies previously exposed to a live or heat-killed mix of the non-pathogenic bacteria, but the immune activation fails to promote fly survival against the pathogens. These findings suggest that immune priming in D. melanogaster, and probably in other insects, is determined by the type of microbes involved as well as the mode of microbial exposure, and possibly requires a comprehensive and precise alteration of immune signaling and function to provide efficient protection against pathogenic infection.
Lipid droplets (LDs) are lipid-carrying multifunctional organelles, which might also interact with pathogens and influence the host immune response. However, the exact nature of these interactions remains currently unexplored. Here we show that systemic infection of
adult flies with non-pathogenic
, the extracellular bacterial pathogen
or the facultative intracellular pathogen
results in intestinal steatosis marked by lipid accumulation in the midgut. Accumulation of LDs in the midgut also correlates with increased whole-body lipid levels characterized by increased expression of genes regulating lipogenesis. The lipid-enriched midgut further displays reduced expression of the enteroendocrine-secreted hormone, Tachykinin. The observed lipid accumulation requires the Gram-negative cell wall pattern recognition molecule, PGRP-LC, but not PGRP-LE, for the humoral immune response. Altogether, our findings indicate that
LDs are inducible organelles, which can serve as markers for inflammation and, depending on the nature of the challenge, they can dictate the outcome of the infection.
The common fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster is an exceptional model for dissecting innate immunity. However, our knowledge on responses to parasitic nematode infections still lags behind. Recent studies have demonstrated that the well-conserved TGF-β signaling pathway participates in immune processes of the fly, including the anti-nematode response. To elucidate the molecular basis of TGF-β anti-nematode activity, we performed a transcript level analysis of different TGF-β signaling components following infection of D. melanogaster larvae with the nematode parasite Heterorhabditis gerrardi. We found no significant changes in the transcript level of most extracellular ligands in both bone morphogenic protein (BMP) and activin branches of the TGF-β signaling pathway between nematode-infected larvae and uninfected controls. However, extracellular ligand, Scw, and Type I receptor, Sax, in the BMP pathway as well as the Type I receptor, Babo, in the activin pathway were substantially up-regulated following H. gerrardi infection. Our results suggest that receptor up-regulation leads to transcriptional up-regulation of the intracellular component Mad in response to H. gerrardi following changes in gene expression of intracellular receptors of both TGF-β signaling branches. These findings identify the involvement of certain TGF-β signaling pathway components in the immune signal transduction of D. melanogaster larvae against parasitic nematodes .
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