Clustering of adhesion receptors following exposure of insect blood cells to foreign surfaces

James B. Nardi, Shufei Zhuang, Barbara Pilas, Charles Mark Bee, Michael R. Kanost

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cell-mediated immune responses of insects involve interactions of two main classes of blood cells (hemocytes) known as granular cells and plasmatocytes. In response to a foreign surface, these hemocytes suddenly transform from circulating, non-adherent cells to cells that interact and adhere to each other and the foreign surface. This report presents evidence that during this adhesive transformation the extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins lacunin and a ligand for peanut agglutinin (PNA) lectin are released by granular cells and bind to surfaces of both granular cells and plasmatocytes. ECM protein co-localizes on cell surfaces with the adhesive receptors integrin and neuroglian, a member of the immunoglobulin superfamily. The ECM protein(s) secreted by granular cells are hypothesized to interact with adhesion receptors such as neuroglian and integrin by cross linking and clustering them on hemocyte surfaces. This clustering of receptors is known to enhance the adhesiveness (avidity) of interacting mammalian immune cells. The formation of ring-shaped clusters of these adhesion receptors on surfaces of insect immune cells represents an evolutionary antecedent of the mammalian immunological synapse.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)555-564
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of insect physiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2005


  • Adhesion receptors
  • Hemocytes
  • Immune system
  • Matrix proteins
  • Non-self recognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Insect Science


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