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Group Theopold publishes in J Mol Biol.

Proto-pyroptosis: an ancestral origin for mammalian inflammatory cell death mechanism in Drosophila melanogaster

A Dziedziech, U Theopold, J Mol Biol. 2021. 


Pyroptosis has been described in mammalian systems to be a form of programmed cell death that is important in immune function through the subsequent release of cytokines and immune effectors upon cell bursting. This form of cell death has been increasingly well-characterized in mammals and can occur using alternative routes however, across phyla, there has been little evidence for the existence of pyroptosis. Here we provide evidence for an ancient origin of pyroptosis in an in vivo immune scenario in Drosophila melanogaster. Crystal cells, a type of insect blood cell, were recruited to wounds and ruptured subsequently releasing their cytosolic content in a caspase-dependent manner. This inflammatory-based programmed cell death mechanism fits the features of pyroptosis, never before described in an in vivo immune scenario in insects and relies on ancient apoptotic machinery to induce proto-pyroptosis. Further, we unveil key players upstream in the activation of cell death in these cells including the apoptosome which may play an alternative role akin to the inflammasome in proto-pyroptosis. Thus, Drosophila may be a suitable model for studying the functional significance of pyroptosis in the innate immune system.

Keywords: Insect immunity; apoptosome; caspase; cellular immunity; programmed cell death.

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