Antimicrobial peptides are the fighter jets of our immune system, battling invasions from unwanted bacteria, viruses and fungi. So, what opens the hangar doors and lets the jets out? New research, using fruit flies, points to a protein called 14-3-3ε. Here we see the release of fighters (antimicrobial peptides coloured green) from the ‘hangar’ (a fly immune cell coloured red) into the fly blood stream. When 14-3-3ε cannot function, the antimicrobial fighters are not released and the fly immune system can't fight off invading bacteria. Malfunctions in similar proteins in humans could be the underlying cause of the rare genetic disease Chédiak-Higashi Syndrome, which affects the human immune and nervous systems. So research on 14-3-3ε in flies could help scientists understand the pathology of the human disorder.
Written by Mary-Clare Hallsworth
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