α-actinin accounts for the bioactivity of actin preparations in inducing STAT target genes in Drosophila melanogaster

Damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs) are molecules exposed or released by dead cells that trigger or modulate immunity and tissue repair. In vertebrates, the cytoskeletal component F-actin is a DAMP specifically recognised by DNGR-1, an innate immune receptor. Previously we suggested that actin is also a DAMP in Drosophila melanogaster by inducing STAT-dependent genes (Srinivasan et al., 2016). Here, we revise that conclusion and report that α-actinin is far more potent than actin at inducing the same STAT response and can be found in trace amounts in actin preparations. Recombinant expression of actin or α-actinin in bacteria demonstrated that only α-actinin could drive the expression of STAT target genes in Drosophila. The response to injected α-actinin required the same signalling cascade that we had identified in our previous work using actin preparations. Taken together, these data indicate that α-actinin rather than actin drives STAT activation when injected into Drosophila.