An ancient defense system eliminates unfit cells from developing tissues during cell competition

S N Meyer, M Amoyel, C Bergantiños, C de la Cova, C Schertel, K Basler, L A Johnston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

112 Citations (Scopus)


Developing tissues that contain mutant or compromised cells present risks to animal health. Accordingly, the appearance of a population of suboptimal cells in a tissue elicits cellular interactions that prevent their contribution to the adult. Here we report that this quality control process, cell competition, uses specific components of the evolutionarily ancient and conserved innate immune system to eliminate Drosophila cells perceived as unfit. We find that Toll-related receptors (TRRs) and the cytokine Spätzle (Spz) lead to NFκB-dependent apoptosis. Diverse "loser" cells require different TRRs and NFκB factors and activate distinct pro-death genes, implying that the particular response is stipulated by the competitive context. Our findings demonstrate a functional repurposing of components of TRRs and NFκB signaling modules in the surveillance of cell fitness during development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1258236
Issue number6214
Publication statusPublished - 5 Dec 2014


  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • Cell Communication
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Drosophila melanogaster
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Mutation
  • NF-kappa B
  • Neuropeptides
  • Toll-Like Receptors
  • Transcription Factors
  • Transcription, Genetic


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