Multinucleated Giant Hemocytes Are Effector Cells in Cell-Mediated Immune Responses of Drosophila

Robert Markus, Zita Lerner, Viktor Honti, Gabor Csordas, Janos Zsamboki, Gyöngyi Cinege, Arpad Parducz, Tamas Lukacsovich, Eva Kurucz, Istvan Ando

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

17 Citations (Scopus)


We identified and characterized a so far unrecognized cell type, dubbed the multinucleated giant hemocyte (MGH), in the ananassae subgroup of Drosophilidae. Here, we describe the functional and ultrastructural characteristics of this novel blood cell type as well as its characterization with a set of discriminative immunological markers. MGHs are encapsulating cells that isolate and kill the parasite without melanization. They share some properties with but differ considerably from lamellocytes, the encapsulating cells of Drosophila melanogaster, the broadly used model organism in studies of innate immunity. MGHs are nonproliferative effector cells that are derived from phagocytic cells of the sessile tissue and the circulation, but do not exhibit phagocytic activity. In contrast to lamellocytes, MGHs are gigantic cells with filamentous projections and contain many nuclei, which are the result of the fusion of several cells. Although the structure of lamellocytes and MGHs differ remarkably, their function in the elimination of parasites is similar, which is potentially the result of the convergent evolution of interactions between hosts and parasites in different geographic regions. MGHs are highly motile and share several features with mammalian multinucleated giant cells, a syncytium of macrophages formed during granulomatous inflammation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)340-353
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Innate Immunity
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 22 2015


  • Comparative immunology
  • Drosophila
  • Encapsulation
  • Granuloma
  • Host defense
  • Immune responses
  • Insects
  • Multinucleated giant hemocytes
  • Parasitology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy

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