The POU/Oct Transcription Factor Pdm1/nub Is Necessary for a Beneficial Gut Microbiota and Normal Lifespan of Drosophila

Dantoft, W., Lundin, D., Esfahani, SS., Engström, Y.

J Innate Immun. 2016 May 28;8(4). [Epub ahead of print]

Abstract

Maintenance of a stable gut microbial community relies on a delicate balance between immune defense and immune tolerance. We have used Drosophila to study how the microbial gut flora is affected by changes in host genetic factors and immunity. Flies with a constitutively active gut immune system, due to a mutation in the POU transcriptional regulator Pdm1/nubbin (nub) gene, had higher loads of bacteria and a more diverse taxonomic composition than controls. In addition, the microbial composition shifted considerably during the short lifespan of the nub1 mutants. This shift was characterized by a loss of relatively few OTUs (operational taxonomic units) and a remarkable increase in a large number of Acetobacter spp. and Leuconostoc spp. Treating nub1 mutant flies with antibiotics prolonged their lifetime survival by more than 100%. Immune gene expression was also persistently high in the presence of antibiotics, indicating that the early death was not a direct consequence of an overactive immune defense but rather an indirect consequence of the microbial load and composition. Thus, changes in host genotype and an inability to regulate the normal growth and composition of the gut microbiota leads to a shift in the microbial community, dysbiosis and early death.