Two Nimrod receptors, NimC1 and Eater, synergistically contribute to bacterial phagocytosis in Drosophila melanogaster

Claudia Melcarne, Elodie Ramond, Jan Dudzic, Andrew J. Bretscher, Éva Kurucz, István Andó, Bruno Lemaitre

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)


Eater and NimC1 are transmembrane receptors of the Drosophila Nimrod family, specifically expressed in haemocytes, the insect blood cells. Previous ex vivo and in vivoRNAi studies have pointed to their role in the phagocytosis of bacteria. Here, we have created a novel NimC1 null mutant to re-evaluate the role of NimC1, alone or in combination with Eater, in the cellular immune response. We show that NimC1 functions as an adhesion molecule ex vivo, but in contrast to Eater it is not required for haemocyte sessility in vivo. Ex vivo phagocytosis assays and electron microscopy experiments confirmed that Eater is the main phagocytic receptor for Gram-positive, but not Gram-negative bacteria, and contributes to microbe tethering to haemocytes. Surprisingly, NimC1 deletion did not impair phagocytosis of bacteria, nor their adhesion to the haemocytes. However, phagocytosis of both types of bacteria was almost abolished in NimC11;eater1 haemocytes. This indicates that both receptors contribute synergistically to the phagocytosis of bacteria, but that Eater can bypass the requirement for NimC1. Finally, we uncovered that NimC1, but not Eater, is essential for uptake of latex beads and zymosan particles. We conclude that Eater and NimC1 are the two main receptors for phagocytosis of bacteria in Drosophila, and that each receptor likely plays distinct roles in microbial uptake.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2670-2691
Number of pages22
JournalFEBS Journal
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019


  • Drosophila
  • Nimrod
  • haemocytes
  • innate immunity
  • phagocytosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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