Innate immunity is an evolutionarily conserved self-defense mechanism against microbial infections. In Drosophila, induction of antimicrobial peptides is a major immune response that is regulated by two distinct signaling pathways called the IMD pathway and the Toll pathway, similar to the tumor necrosis factor-α signaling and Toll-like receptor/interleukin-1 signaling pathways, respectively, in mammals. In mammals, innate immunity interacts with adaptive immunity and has a key role in the regulated immune response. Therefore, innate immunity is a pharmaceutical target for the development of immune regulators. Previously, based on the striking conservation between the mechanisms that regulate Drosophila immunity and human innate immunity, we established an ex vivo culture in which compounds acting on innate immunity can be evaluated using a reporter gene that reflects activation of the IMD pathway [Yajima et al. [Yajima, M., Takada, M., Takahashi, N., Kikuchi, H., Natori, S., Oshima, Y., Kurata, S., 2003. A newly established in vitro culture using transgenic Drosophila reveals functional coupling between the phospholipase A2-generated fatty acid cascade and lipopolysaccharide-dependent activation of the immune deficiency (imd) pathway in insect immunity. The Biochemical Journal 371(Pt 1), 205-210] Biochem J 371, 205-210]. Here, we combined the ex vivo culture with a reporter gene that reflects the heat shock response and demonstrated that the resulting systems are useful for screening compounds that act specifically on innate immunity, including mammalian innate immune responses. Identification of target molecules is essential for the development of more potent medicines with fewer side effects. In this study, we also established ex vivo systems capable of identifying target molecules of the identified compounds using targeted activation of the IMD pathway.
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