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Making flies sick reveals new role for growth factors in immunity
Date:10/23/2008

cells would only become plasmatocytes. The inability of Dpp mutant fruit flies to produce a particular immune cell type was not obvious under regular lab conditions. This type of defect is considered "cryptic"; a defect that is not immediately obvious because until the fly requires an immune response there is no way to know that something is wrong.

"Up to this point Dpp had not been implicated in hematopoiesis in flies," states Newfeld.

The discovery that Dpp plays a direct role in immune system regulation in flies may have some direct implications for humans, offering new insight into human diseases caused by mutations in bone morphogenetic proteins. Newfeld says too, that scientists who study these morphogenetic proteins in mammals (proteins very similar to Dpp) have known for some time that these proteins are involved in the hematopoietic stem cell growth in the bone marrow. The similarities between the two organisms are intriguing.

"These are exciting parallels; ones which can stimulate collaboration, provide inspiration and reveal new research directions relevant to the understanding of development and immune diseases," Newfeld notes.


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Contact: Margaret Coulombe
margaret.coulombe@earthlink.net
480-727-8934
Arizona State University
Source:Eurekalert

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