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Drosophila host defense to fungal and Gram-positive bacterial infection is mediated by the Spaetzle/Toll/cactus gene cassette. It has been proposed that Toll does not function as a pattern recognition receptor per se but is activated through a cleaved form of the cytokine Spaetzle. The upstream events linking infection to the cleavage of Spaetzle have long remained elusive. Here we report the identification of a central component of the fungal activation of Toll. We show that ethylmethane sulfonate-induced mutations in the persephone gene, which encodes a previously unknown serine protease, block induction of the Toll pathway by fungi and resistance to this type of infection.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





114 - 116


Amino Acid Sequence, Animals, Chromosome Mapping, Drosophila, Drosophila Proteins, Escherichia coli, Female, Gene Expression Regulation, Genes, Insect, Gram-Positive Cocci, Hemolymph, Hypocreales, Insect Proteins, Male, Molecular Sequence Data, Mutation, Protein Sorting Signals, Protein Structure, Tertiary, Receptors, Cell Surface, Serine Endopeptidases, Toll-Like Receptors