Anti-tumour effects of antimicrobial peptides, components of the innate immune system, against haematopoietic tumours in Drosophila mxc mutants

Mayo Araki, Massanori Kurihara, Suzuko Kinoshita, Rie Awane, Tetsuya Sato, Yasuyuki Ohkawa, Yoshihiro H. Inoue

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    21 Citations (Scopus)


    The innate immune response is the first line of defence against microbial infections. In Drosophila, two major pathways of the innate immune system (the Toll- and IMD-mediated pathways) induce the synthesis of antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) within the fat body. Recently, it has been reported that certain cationic AMPs exhibit selective cytotoxicity against human cancer cells; however, little is known about their anti-tumour effects. Drosophila mxcmbn1 mutants exhibit malignant hyperplasia in a larval haematopoietic organ called the lymph gland (LG). Here, using RNA-seq analysis, we found many immunoresponsive genes, including those encoding AMPs, to be upregulated in these mutants. Downregulation of these pathways by either a Toll or IMD mutation enhanced the tumour phenotype of the mxc mutants. Conversely, ectopic expression of each of five different AMPs in the fat body significantly suppressed the LG hyperplasia phenotype in the mutants. Thus, we propose that the Drosophila innate immune system can suppress the progression of haematopoietic tumours by inducing AMP gene expression. Overexpression of any one of the five AMPs studied resulted in enhanced apoptosis in mutant LGs, whereas no apoptotic signals were detected in controls. We observed that two AMPs, Drosomycin and Defensin,were taken up by circulating haemocyte-like cells, which were associated with the LG regions and showed reduced cell-to-cell adhesion in the mutants. By contrast, the AMP Diptericin was directly localised at the tumour site without intermediating haemocytes. These results suggest that AMPs have a specific cytotoxic effect that enhances apoptosis exclusively in the tumour cells.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numberdmm037721
    JournalDMM Disease Models and Mechanisms
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - 2019

    All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

    • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
    • Medicine (miscellaneous)
    • Immunology and Microbiology (miscellaneous)
    • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology


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