Genes that fight infection: what the Drosophila genome says about animal immunity

From deciphering the principles of heredity to identifying the genes that control development, the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster is being used to deconstruct an increasing number of biological processes. Genetic studies of Drosophila responses to microbial infection have identified regulators of innate immunity that are functionally conserved in mammals. These recent findings highlight the ancient origins of animal immune responses and demonstrate the potential of Drosophila for dissecting host-pathogen interactions. The sequencing of the Drosophila genome both enhances genetic approaches and provides new clues for the identification of key components of innate immunity. This article summarizes how information gained from genomic analysis contributes to our understanding of how animals cope with infectious disease.

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