Drosophila melanogaster plasmatocytes, the phagocytic cells among hemocytes, are essential for immune responses, but also play key roles from early development to death through their interactions with other cell types. They regulate homeostasis and signaling during development, stem cell proliferation, metabolism, cancer, wound responses and aging, displaying intriguing molecular and functional conservation with vertebrate macrophages. Given the relative ease of genetics in Drosophila compared to vertebrates, tools permitting visualization and genetic manipulation of plasmatocytes and surrounding tissues independently at all stages would greatly aid in fully understanding these processes, but are lacking. Here we describe a comprehensive set of transgenic lines that allow this. These include extremely brightly fluorescing mCherry-based lines that allow GAL4-independent visualization of plasmatocyte nuclei, cytoplasm or actin cytoskeleton from embryonic Stage 8 through adulthood in both live and fixed samples even as heterozygotes, greatly facilitating screening. These lines allow live visualization and tracking of embryonic plasmatocytes, as well as larval plasmatocytes residing at the body wall or flowing with the surrounding hemolymph. With confocal imaging, interactions of plasmatocytes and inner tissues can be seen in live or fixed embryos, larvae and adults. They permit efficient GAL4-independent FACS analysis/sorting of plasmatocytes throughout life. To facilitate genetic analysis of reciprocal signaling, we have also made a plasmatocyte-expressing QF2 line that in combination with extant GAL4 drivers allows independent genetic manipulation of both plasmatocytes and surrounding tissues, and a GAL80 line that blocks GAL4 drivers from affecting plasmatocytes, both of which function from the early embryo to the adult.
- Journal Article