A galactose-specific C-type lectin has been purified from a pupal extract of Drosophila melanogaster. This lectin gene, named DL1 (Drosophilalectin 1), is part of a gene cluster with the other two galactose-specific C-type lectin genes, named DL2 (Drosophilalectin 2) and DL3 (Drosophilalectin 3). These three genes are expressed differentially in fruit fly, but show similar haemagglutinating activities. The present study characterized the biochemical and biological properties of the DL1 protein. The recombinant DL1 protein bound to Escherichia coli and Erwinia chrysanthemi, but not to other Gram-negative or any other kinds of microbial strains that have been investigated. In addition, DL1 agglutinated E. coli and markedly intensified the association of a Drosophila haemocytes-derived cell line with E. coli. For in vivo genetic analysis of the lectin genes, we also established a null-mutant Drosophila. The induction of inducible antibacterial peptide genes was not impaired in the DL1 mutant, suggesting that the galactose-specific C-type lectin does not participate in the induction of antibacterial peptides, but possibly participates in the immune response via the haemocyte-mediated mechanism.

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