Drosophila innate immunity: regional and functional specialization of prophenoloxidases
The diversification of immune systems during evolution involves the expansion of particular gene families in given phyla. A better understanding of the metazoan immune system requires an analysis of the logic underlying such immune gene amplification. This analysis is now within reach due to the ease with which we can generate multiple mutations in an organism. In this paper, we analyze the contribution of the three Drosophila prophenoloxidases (PPOs) to host defense by generating single, double and triple mutants. PPOs are enzymes that catalyze the production of melanin at the site of infection and around parasites. They are the rate-limiting enzymes that contribute to the melanization reaction, a major immune mechanism of arthropods. The number of PPO-encoding genes is variable among insects, ranging from one in the bee to ten in the mosquito.