Hauling, T. Krautz, R. Volkenhoff, A. Kucerova, L. Theopold, U. A Drosophila immune response against Ras-induced overgrowth. Biol Open. 2014 Mar 21. pii: bio.20146494v1. doi: 10.1242/bio.20146494. [Epub ahead of print]


Our goal is to characterize the innate immune response against the early stage of tumor development. For this, animal models where genetic changes in specific cells and tissues can be performed in a controlled way have become increasingly important, including the fruitfly Drosophila melanogaster. Many tumor mutants in Drosophila affect the germline and, as a consequence, also the immune system itself, making it difficult to ascribe their phenotype to a specific tissue. Only during the past decade, mutations have been induced systematically in somatic cells to study the control of tumorous growth by neighboring cells and by immune cells. Here we show that upon ectopic expression of a dominant-active form of the Ras oncogene (RasV12), both imaginal discs and salivary glands are affected. Particularly, the glands increase in size, express metalloproteinases and display apoptotic markers. This leads to a strong cellular response, which has many hallmarks of the granuloma-like encapsulation reaction, usually mounted by the insect against larger foreign objects. RNA sequencing of the fat body reveals a characteristic humoral immune response. In addition we also identify genes that are specifically induced upon expression of RasV12. As a proof-of-principle, we show that one of the induced genes (santa-maria), which encodes a scavenger receptor, modulates damage to the salivary glands. The list of genes we have identified provides a rich source for further functional characterization. Our hope is that this will lead to a better understanding of the earliest stage of innate immune responses against tumors with implications for mammalian immunity.


Encapsulation, Hemocytes, Innate immunity, Insect immunity, Oncogene, Tumor