Counting Diversity in the Fly

Science's STKE  23 Mar 2004:
Vol. 2004, Issue 225, pp. tw105-TW105
DOI: 10.1126/stke.2252004TW105

Much has been learned in recent years about the innate immune pathways that exist in invertebrates, in particular in the fruit fly, and these results have helped to unravel the emerging innate immune pathways in mammals. Aside from innate immunity, mammals possess an adaptive immune system that has evolved a high degree of polymorphism in some proteins and the ability to generate receptor diversity as a means of dealing with pathogens. Lazzaro et al. observe that specific genes encoding proteins of the innate immune system in wild populations of Drosophila melanogaster are also polymorphic. In turn, this finding correlates with the heterogeneous ability of flies to cope with certain types of bacterial infection.

B. P. Lazzaro, B. K. Sceurman, A. G. Clark, Genetic basis of natural variation in D. melanogaster antibacterial immunity. Science 303, 1873-1876 (2004). [Abstract] [Full Text]