Tissue-specific inducible expression of antimicrobial peptide genes in Drosophila surface epithelia.
The production of antimicrobial peptides is an important aspect of host defense in multicellular organisms. In Drosophila, seven antimicrobial peptides with different spectra of activities are synthesized by the fat body during the immune response and secreted into the hemolymph. Using GFP reporter transgenes, we show here that all seven Drosophila antimicrobial peptides can be induced in surface epithelia in a tissue-specific manner. The imd gene plays a critical role in the activation of this local response to infection. In particular, drosomycin expression, which is regulated by the Toll pathway during the systemic response, is regulated by imd in the respiratory tract, thus demonstrating the existence of distinct regulatory mechanisms for local and systemic induction of antimicrobial peptide genes in Drosophila.