Acute inflammation can cause serious tissue damage and disease in physiologically-challenged organisms. The precise mechanisms leading to these detrimental effects remain to be determined. In this study, we utilize a reproducible means to induce cellular immune activity in Drosophila larvae in response to mechanical stress. That is, forceps squeeze-administered stress induces lamellocytes, a defensive hemocyte type that normally appears in response to wasp infestation of larvae. The posterior signaling center (PSC) is a cellular microenvironment in the larval hematopoietic lymph gland that is vital for lamellocyte induction upon parasitoid attack. However, we found the PSC was not required for mechanical stress-induced lamellocyte production. In addition, we observed that mechanical injury caused a systemic expression of Unpaired3. This cytokine is both necessary and sufficient to activate the cellular immune response to the imposed stress. These findings provide new insights into the communication between injured tissues and immune system induction, using stress-challenged Drosophila larvae as a tractable model system.
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