The Toll immune-regulated Drosophila protein Fondue is involved in hemolymph clotting and puparium formation.
Clotting is critical in limiting hemolymph loss and initiating wound healing in insects as in vertebrates. It is also an important immune defense, quickly forming a secondary barrier to infection, immobilizing bacteria and thereby promoting their killing. However, hemolymph clotting is one of the least understood immune responses in insects. Here, we characterize fondue (fon; CG15825), an immune-responsive gene of Drosophila melanogaster that encodes an abundant hemolymph protein containing multiple repeat blocks. After knockdown of fon by RNAi, bead aggregation activity of larval hemolymph is strongly reduced, and wound closure is affected. fon is thus the second Drosophila gene after hemolectin (hml), for which a knockdown causes a clotting phenotype. In contrast to hml-RNAi larvae, clot fibers are still observed in samples from fon-RNAi larvae. However, clot fibers from fon-RNAi larvae are more ductile and longer than in wt hemolymph samples, indicating that Fondue might be involved in cross-linking of fiber proteins. In addition, fon-RNAi larvae exhibit melanotic tumors and constitutive expression of the antifungal peptide gene Drosomycin (Drs), while fon-RNAi pupae display an aberrant pupal phenotype. Altogether, our studies indicate that Fondue is a major hemolymph protein required for efficient clotting in Drosophila.