Innate and intrinsic antiviral immunity in Drosophila


The fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster has been a valuable model to investigate the genetic mechanisms of innate immunity. Initially focused on the resistance to bacteria and fungi, these studies have been extended to include antiviral immunity over the last decade. Like all living organisms, insects are continually exposed to viruses and have developed efficient defense mechanisms. We review here our current understanding on antiviral host defense in fruit flies. A major antiviral defense in Drosophila is RNA interference, in particular the small interfering (si) RNA pathway. In addition, complex inducible responses and restriction factors contribute to the control of infections. Some of the genes involved in these pathways have been conserved through evolution, highlighting loci that may account for susceptibility to viral infections in humans. Other genes are not conserved and represent species-specific innovations.

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