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Graduation Term


Document Type

Thesis-ISU Access Only

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


School of Biological Sciences

Committee Chair

Nathan T. Mortimer


Drosophila melanogaster is an excellent model organism to study conserved innate immune responses. D. melanogaster utilizes both humoral and cellular immune responses to combat fungal, bacterial and parasitic pathogens; the humoral immune response is elicited against bacterial and fungal pathogens and the cellular immune response targets parasites. Parasitoid wasps are a major parasite of D. melanogaster. Fly larvae are commonly infected by parasitoid wasps and in response, mount a robust cellular immune response against the parasitoid egg. Numerous signaling pathways like Toll, JNK and JAK-STAT have been shown to play a role in the immune response against parasitoid wasps and have a conserved role in human immunity. However, the regulation of the conserved signaling pathways controlling innate immunity is not completely understood. The D. melanogaster model system provides excellent tools for studying the mechanisms of conserved signaling pathways in the context of innate immunity. To gain a better understanding of the regulators of one such signaling pathway, this thesis will investigate the effect of candidate regulatory genes on JAK-STAT activity in a tissue-specific manner. Using tissue specific RNA interference mediated transcript knockdown, we tested the role of JAK-STAT associated genes in the tuSz mutant autoimmune phenotype, and the immune response to parasite infection. Exploitation of the Drosophila-wasp system and further investigation of the role of these genes in fly cellular immunity may provide novel information to help better understand the role of JAK-STAT activity in cellular immunity and how immune responses are balanced by the regulation of this signaling cascade.

KEYWORDS: JAK-STAT; Cellular Immunity; Parasitoid Wasp; Encapsulation


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