Macroautophagy (referred to hereafter as autophagy) functions not only in self-digestion, but also in the killing and degradation of infectious pathogens in in vitro-cultured cells. Based on genetic manipulations of both the host, Drosophila and pathogen, Listeria monocytogenes, we recently reported that L. monocytogenes-induced autophagy is dependent on the recognition of the pathogen by the Drosophila pattern recognition protein, PGRP-LE. Autophagy and PGRP-LE are crucial for inhibition of the intracellular growth of bacteria in hemocytes, the target cells of L. monocytogenes infection in vivo. The importance of autophagy in the resistance of Drosophila against L. monocytogenes is further indicated in in vivo survival experiments. The signaling pathway(s) that induces autophagy by PGRP-LE is independent of the known immune signaling pathways, suggesting that another unidentified pathway(s) is involved. The results of the present study demonstrate that the induction of autophagy, as an innate immune response targeting intracellular pathogens, is activated by intracellular sensors through unidentified pathways.
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