Research - Institute of Genetics - Immunology Unit - Laboratory of Immunology

István ANDÓ
Professor emeritus

Éva KURUCZ senior research associate
Viktor HONTI senior research associate
Gyöngyi CINEGE research associate
Navodita MAURICE research associate
Gergely VARGA junior research associate
Erika GÁBOR Ph.D. student
Zita LERNER Ph.D. student
Anita BALÁZS laboratory assistant
Mónika ILYÉS laboratory assistant
Olga KOVALCSIK laboratory assistant


Innate immunity

Immunity is the defense against microbes and other invaders. The microbial and parasitic attacks and tumours in the animal kingdom are controlled by the innate immunity: production of antimicrobial peptides, phagocytosis, and the encapsulation reaction. Insects possess an effective immune system, the prototype of the innate immunity of vertebrates. Our studies are carried out using Drosophila species and the honey bee, Apis mellifera, with the hope of revealing and understanding the immune mechanisms conserved throughout evolution.


Our group focuses on:
1) Drosophila cell-mediated immunity
2) Cell-mediated immunity of the honey bee, Apis mellifera

1) Cell-mediated immunity of Drosophila

i) Identification of factors involved in the regulation of the encapsulation reaction

We study the immune system of Drosophila melanogaster and other Drosophila species in the hope of exploring the basic mechanisms of blood cell development and cellular immunity to understand different defense strategies utilized in eliminating invaders. So far, we have developed tools for in vitro and in vivo studies in the form of antibodies and fluorescent genetic markers to study Drosophila blood cells. We used them to define major classes and lineages of hemocytes, identified a major source of immune-responsive blood cells in the larva, and showed the plasticity of the phagocytic cell population in the cell-mediated immune responses. Furthermore, we have recently identified a novel effector cell type in innate immunity, the multinucleated giant hemocyte (Figure 1), a cell involved in the encapsulation of parasites (, VideoS1 and VideoS2). Multinucleated giant hemocytes share several features with mammalian multinucleated giant cells, a syncytium of macrophages formed during granulomatous inflammation.

Figure 1: The multinucleated giant hemocyte (Credit to Dr. Robert Márkus and I.A.)

We apply a screen to identify key factors involved in the activation of the cellular immunity and in tumorous transformation. We also study the plasticity of hemocyte subsets during the immune response, and we aim to identify mechanisms that transcriptionally or epigenetically define transitions from one cell type (e.g. phagocytic) to another (e.g. encapsulating) (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Models of antiparasitic immune responses of D. melanogaster and D. ananassae (J. Innate Immun. 2015; 7:340-353).

ii) Analysis of the sessile hematopoietic tissue and the interactions among the hematopoietic compartments

We analyze the compartmentalization of the hematopoietic tissues (Figure 3) and study the communication between the blood cell compartments, e.g., that of the sessile hematopoietic tissue with the circulating blood cells as well as with other tissues during the course of the development and activation of Drosophila blood cells (( Video s1 and Video S2). For this purpose, we developed a novel in vivo immunostaining method combined with confocal videomicroscopy (Csordás et al., 2014).

Figure 3: Hematopoietic compartments of Drosophila melanogaster. The lymph gland (LG) the sessile hematopoietic tissue (ST), the posterior hematopoietic tissue (PHT), and the circulating blood cells (C).

2) Cell-mediated immunity of the honey bee, Apis mellifera

Identification of the functional subsets of hemocytes and analysis of cell-mediated immunity

We identify immunological and genetic markers for functionally different subsets of hemocytes in the honey bee (Figure 4).

Figure 4: Plasticity of hemocyte lineages and blood cell compartments of Drosophila melanogaster

Selected publications

Márkus, R., Laurinyecz, B., Kurucz, E., Honti, V., Bajusz, I., Sipos, B., Somogyi, K., Kronhamn, J., Hultmark, D. and Andó, I. (2009). Sessile hemocytes as a hematopoietic compartment in Drosophila melanogaster. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 106(12): 4805-4809.

Honti V., Csordas G., Markus R., Kurucz E., Jankovics F., and Ando I (2010). Cell lineage tracing reveals the plasticity of the hemocyte lineages and of the hematopoietic compartments in Drosophila melanogaster. Molecular Immunology. 47(11-12): 1997-2004.

Csordas G., Varga GIB., Honti V., Jankovics F., Kurucz E. and Ando I (2014). In Vivo Immunostaining of Hemocyte Compartments in Drosophila for Live Imaging PLOS ONE. 9:(6) Paper e98191. 6 p.

Honti V., Csordas G., Kurucz E., Markus R. and Ando I (2014) The cell-mediated immunity of Drosophila melanogaster: Hemocyte lineages, immune compartments, microanatomy and regulation. Developmental and Comparative Immunology. 42:(1) pp. 47-56.

Bretscher AJ, Honti V, Binggeli O, Burri O, Poidevin M, Kurucz E, Zsamboki J, Ando I, Lemaitre B. (2015) The Nimrod transmembrane receptor Eater is required for hemocyte attachment to the sessile compartment in Drosophila melanogaster. Biology Open. 4:(3) pp. 355-363. (2015)

Márkus R., Lerner Z., Honti V., Csordás G., Zsámboki J., Cinege G., Párducz Á., Lukacsovich T., Kurucz É. and Andó I. (2015) Multinucleated Giant Hemocytes Are Effector Cells in Cell-Mediated Immune Responses of Drosophila Journal of Innate Immunity. 7:(4) pp. 340-353. (2015)

Kari B., Csordas G., Honti V., Cinege G., Williams MJ., Ando I. and Kurucz E. (2016) The raspberry Gene Is Involved in the Regulation of the Cellular Immune Response in Drosophila melanogaster PLOS ONE. 11:(3) Paper e0150910. 13 p.