Rudra Interrupts Receptor Signaling Complexes to Negatively Regulate the IMD Pathway
Insects rely primarily on innate immune responses to fight pathogens. In Drosophila, antimicrobial peptides are key contributors to host defense. Antimicrobial peptide gene expression is regulated by the IMD and Toll pathways. Bacterial peptidoglycans trigger these pathways, through recognition by peptidoglycan recognition proteins (PGRPs). DAP-type peptidoglycan triggers the IMD pathway via PGRP-LC and PGRP-LE, while lysine-type peptidoglycan is an agonist for the Toll pathway through PGRP-SA and PGRP-SD. Recent work has shown that the intensity and duration of the immune responses initiating with these receptors is tightly regulated at multiple levels, by a series of negative regulators. Through two-hybrid screening with PGRP-LC, we identified Rudra, a new regulator of the IMD pathway, and demonstrate that it is a critical feedback inhibitor of peptidoglycan receptor signaling. Following stimulation of the IMD pathway, rudra expression was rapidly induced. In cells, RNAi targeting of rudra caused a marked up-regulation of antimicrobial peptide gene expression. rudra mutant flies also hyper-activated antimicrobial peptide genes and were more resistant to infection with the insect pathogen Erwinia carotovora carotovora. Molecularly, Rudra was found to bind and interfere with both PGRP-LC and PGRP-LE, disrupting their signaling complex. These results show that Rudra is a critical component in a negative feedback loop, whereby immune-induced gene expression rapidly produces a potent inhibitor that binds and inhibits pattern recognition receptors.