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The evolution of constitutively active humoral immune defenses in Drosophila populations under high parasite pressure.

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Arunkumar, Ramesh 
Irfan, Amina 
Ding, Shuai Dominique 
Leitão, Alexandre B 


Both constitutive and inducible immune mechanisms are employed by hosts for defense against infection. Constitutive immunity allows for a faster response, but it comes with an associated cost that is always present. This trade-off between speed and fitness costs leads to the theoretical prediction that constitutive immunity will be favored where parasite exposure is frequent. We selected populations of Drosophila melanogaster under high parasite pressure from the parasitoid wasp Leptopilina boulardi. With RNA sequencing, we found the evolution of resistance in these populations was associated with them developing constitutively active humoral immunity, mediated by the larval fat body. Furthermore, these evolved populations were also able to induce gene expression in response to infection to a greater level, which indicates an overall more activated humoral immune response to parasitization. The anti-parasitoid immune response also relies on the JAK/STAT signaling pathway being activated in muscles following infection, and this induced response was only seen in populations that had evolved under high parasite pressure. We found that the cytokine Upd3, which induces this JAK/STAT response, is being expressed by immature lamellocytes. Furthermore, these immune cells became constitutively present when populations evolved resistance, potentially explaining why they gained the ability to activate JAK/STAT signaling. Thus, under intense parasitism, populations evolved resistance by increasing both constitutive and induced immune defenses, and there is likely an interplay between these two forms of immunity.



31 Biological Sciences, 32 Biomedical and Clinical Sciences, 3204 Immunology, Vaccine Related, Prevention, Infectious Diseases, 2.1 Biological and endogenous factors, 2 Aetiology, Infection, Inflammatory and immune system

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PLoS Pathog

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Public Library of Science (PLoS)
Leverhulme Trust (RPG-2020-236)
BBSRC (BB/V000667/1)
Natural Environment Research Council (NE/P00184X/1)
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