There are striking parallels between the regulation of gene expression along the dorsoventral (DV) axis of Drosophila embryos and lymphoid-restricted expression in the mammalian immune system. Both depend on regulatory factors containing rel domains (dorsal and NF-κB) that are controlled at the level of nuclear transport. A novel Rel-containing gene in Drosophila, Dif (dorsal-related immunity factor), provides a potential link between these seemingly disparate processes. Although Dif maps close to dorsal, it does not appear to participate in DV patterning, but instead mediates an immune response in Drosophila larvae. Dif is normally localized in the cytoplasm of the larval fat body, but quickly accumulates in the nucleus upon bacterial infection or injury. Evidence is presented that once in the nucleus, Dif binds to κB-like sequence motifs present in promoter regions of immunity genes. These results suggest that mammalian and insect immunity share a common evolutionary origin.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology