Prevalence of local immune response against oral infection in a Drosophila/Pseudomonas infection model.
Pathogens have developed multiple strategies that allow them to exploit host resources and resist the immune response. To study how Drosophila flies deal with infectious diseases in a natural context, we investigated the interactions between Drosophila and a newly identified entomopathogen, Pseudomonas entomophila. Flies orally infected with P. entomophila rapidly succumb despite the induction of both local and systemic immune responses, indicating that this bacterium has developed specific strategies to escape the fly immune response. Using a combined genetic approach on both host and pathogen, we showed that P. entomophila virulence is multi-factorial with a clear differentiation between factors that trigger the immune response and those that promote pathogenicity. We demonstrate that AprA, an abundant secreted metalloprotease produced by P. entomophila, is an important virulence factor. Inactivation of aprA attenuated both the capacity to persist in the host and pathogenicity. Interestingly, aprA mutants were able to survive to wild-type levels in immune-deficient Relish flies, indicating that the protease plays an important role in protection against the Drosophila immune response. Our study also reveals that the major contribution to the fly defense against P. entomophila is provided by the local, rather than the systemic immune response. More precisely, our data points to an important role for the antimicrobial peptide Diptericin against orally infectious Gram-negative bacteria, emphasizing the critical role of local antimicrobial peptide expression against food-borne pathogens.