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Snoring or soaring? Strength of fruit-fly immune system varies
Date:12/14/2008

hose infected during active periods ("daytime"). Further, by injecting fluorescently labeled dead bacteria into flies at different points in their circadian cycle, the investigators could see increased phagocyte function at night for those two pathogens: there was an increase in the number of bacteria ingested by phagocytes in flies infected during resting versus active phases. Likewise, circadian-mutant flies "trapped" in the active phase had decreased phagocyte function, demonstrating that phagocyte activity is subject to regulation by circadian proteins whose activity, in turn, is disrupted by these mutations.

Strangely, though, infecting the flies with a third bacterial pathogen, Burkholderia cepacia, produced the opposite result. Circadian-mutant flies coped better with the infection than did normal flies, suggesting that in this case, a disrupted circadian rhythm might actually be good for the flies.

That poses an intellectual challenge, Schneider said: "If a sick fruit fly were to walk into my office, and it were infected with Burkholderia, I would know that I should deprive it of sleep. But I don't know the rules for people. In hospitals, nurses and orderlies are going in and out all the time, and you never get any sleep. Is that good, or bad? There are probably conditions where that's going to make things much worse. But maybe there are some conditions where it's actually better for you to have your sleep continuously interrupted. We're trying to figure out the rules for the fly, and hopefully someone else can translate it into human biology: Do they put you in a quiet room, or do they keep coming in and fiddling with your IV on purpose?"


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Contact: Bruce Goldman
goldmanb@stanford.edu
650-725-2106
Stanford University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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