The hemocytes, the blood cells of Drosophila, participate in the humoral and cellular immune defense reactions against microbes and parasites [1-8]. The plasmatocytes, one class of hemocytes, are phagocytically active and play an important role in immunity and development by removing microorganisms as well as apoptotic cells. On the surface of circulating and sessile plasmatocytes, we have now identified a protein, Nimrod C1 (NimC1), which is involved in the phagocytosis of bacteria. Suppression of NimC1 expression in plasmatocytes inhibited the phagocytosis of Staphylococcus aureus. Conversely, overexpression of NimC1 in S2 cells stimulated the phagocytosis of both S. aureus and Escherichia coli. NimC1 is a 90-100 kDa single-pass transmembrane protein with ten characteristic EGF-like repeats (NIM repeats). The nimC1 gene is part of a cluster of ten related nimrod genes at 34E on chromosome 2, and similar clusters of nimrod-like genes are conserved in other insects such as Anopheles and Apis. The Nimrod proteins are related to other putative phagocytosis receptors such as Eater and Draper from D. melanogaster and CED-1 from C. elegans. Together, they form a superfamily that also includes proteins that are encoded in the human genome.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)