Functional study of hemolymph coagulation in Drosophila larvae

University dissertation from Stockholm : Department of Molecular Biology and Functional Genomics, Stockholm University

Abstract: Many pathogen infections in nature are accompanied by injury and subsequent coagulation. Despite the contribution of hemolymph coagulation to wound sealing, little is known about its immune function. Based on the molecular knowledge of Drosophila innate immunity, this thesis investigated the immune function of clot both in vitro and in vivo, the immune relevant genes involved in a natural infection model, involving entomopathgenic nematodes (EPN) and the factors leading to crystal cell activation. Transglutaminase (TG) and its substrate Fondue (Fon) have been identified as bona fide clot components in Drosophila larvae. By knocking down TG or Fon via RNAi, we observed an increased susceptibility to EPN in larvae. In addition, this increased susceptibility was associated with an impaired ability of hemolymph clots to entrap bacteria. Immunostaining revealed that both clot components (Fon and TG) were able to target microbial surfaces. All these data suggest an immune function for the Drosophila hemolymph clot. Strikingly, similar results were obtained when we ran parallel experiments with human FXIIIa, an ortholog of Drosophila TG, indicating a functional conservation. We also found evidence for the regulation on both clot and immunity by eicosanoids in Drosophila larvae. The combination of EPN infection with the Drosophila model system allowed us to discover an immune function for TEP3 and Glutactin. However the molecular mechanism underlying the involvement of these two proteins in this particular host-pathogen interaction remains to be elucidated. Prophenoloxidase, the proform of enzyme involved in hardening the clot matrix, has been shown to be released by rupture of crystal cells. This cell rupture is dependent on activation of the JNK pathway, Rho GTPases and Eiger. Our work further identified the cytoskeletal component, Moesin, and the cytoskeletal regulator Rac2 as mediators of cell rupture. Despite the possible role of caspases in crystal cell activation, such cell rupture was turned out to be different from apoptosis. The implication of Rab5 in this process indicated that proper endocytosis is required for cell activation and subsequent melanization. Our findings furthered not only our understanding of the release of proPO via cell rupture but also our knowledge on different paths of immune cell activation.