Loss of the Antimicrobial Peptide Metchnikowin Protects Against Traumatic Brain Injury Outcomes in Drosophila melanogaster.

G3 (Bethesda, Md.) (2020-07-08)
Laura C Swanson, Stacey A Rimkus, Barry Ganetzky, David A Wassarman

Neuroinflammation is a major pathophysiological feature of traumatic brain injury (TBI). Early and persistent activation of innate immune response signaling pathways by primary injuries is associated with secondary cellular injuries that cause TBI outcomes to change over time. We used a Drosophila melanogaster model to investigate the role of antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) in acute and chronic outcomes of closed-head TBI. AMPs are effectors of pathogen and stress defense mechanisms mediated by the evolutionarily conserved Toll and Immune-deficiency (Imd) innate immune response pathways that activate Nuclear Factor kappa B (NF-κB) transcription factors. Here, we analyzed the effect of null mutations in 10 of the 14 known Drosophila AMP genes on TBI outcomes. We found that mutation of Metchnikowin (Mtk) was unique in protecting flies from mortality within the 24 h following TBI under two diet conditions that produce different levels of mortality. In addition, Mtk mutants had reduced behavioral deficits at 24 h following TBI and increased lifespan either in the absence or presence of TBI. Using a transcriptional reporter of gene expression, we found that TBI increased Mtk expression in the brain. Quantitative analysis of mRNA in whole flies revealed that expression of other AMPs in the Toll and Imd pathways as well as NF-κB transcription factors were not altered in Mtk mutants. Overall, these results demonstrate that Mtk plays an infection-independent role in the fly nervous system, and TBI-induced expression of Mtk in the brain activates acute and chronic secondary injury pathways that are also activated during normal aging.

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Yeast from Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Type I