Development of the cellular immune system of Drosophila requires the membrane attack complex/perforin-like protein Torso-like

Lauren Forbes-Beadle, Tova Crossman, Travis K. Johnson, Richard Burke, Coral G. Warr, James C. Whisstock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Pore-forming members of the membrane attack complex/perforin-like (MACPF) protein superfamily perform well-characterized roles as mammalian immune effectors. For example, complement component 9 and perforin function to directly form pores in the membrane of Gram-negative pathogens or virally infected/transformed cells, respectively. In contrast, the only known MACPF protein in Drosophila melanogaster, Torso-like, plays crucial roles during development in embryo patterning and larval growth. Here, we report that in addition to these functions, Torso-like plays an important role in Drosophila immunity. However, in contrast to a hypothesized effector function in, for example, elimination of Gram-negative pathogens, we find that torso-like null mutants instead show increased susceptibility to certain Gram-positive pathogens such as Staphylococcus aureus and Enterococcus faecalis. We further show that this deficit is due to a severely reduced number of circulating immune cells and, as a consequence, an impaired ability to phagocytose bacterial particles. Together these data suggest that Torso-like plays an important role in controlling the development of the Drosophila cellular immune system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)675-681
Number of pages7
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2016


  • Cellular immunity
  • Drosophila melanogaster
  • Genetics of immunity
  • Membrane attack complex/perforin-like proteins
  • Phagocytosis
  • Torso-like

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